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Reynolds, Hinson met privately with Linn-Mar parents to discuss parent choice and school vouchers

Element5 Digital
The Linn-Mar school district voted to pass a new policy that supports transgender students. Some parents are concerned about it being confusing for students.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, both Republicans, met with several dozen parents in a private meeting at Thomas Park in Marion Wednesday to hear their concerns about a Linn-Mar school district policy that supports transgender students.

Although the school board president has said the formal policy itself is new, but not the procedures, the policy was voted on and passed in April and includes a plan for gender identity and pronouns as well as which bathrooms students should use. It allows students starting in seventh grade to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

Hinson has two children in the district. She said the language the policy uses does not include parents in students' actions like changing their pronouns or gender identity.

“I heard from dozens of parents who are worried about specifically being cut out of conversations and decisions regarding their kids at school," Hinson said.

She shared one parent's concern for her son with autism.

"One woman who has autistic children was telling me that she has spent more than 10 years teaching her kids about proper behavior at school," Hinson shared about the meeting conversation. "Now she's concerned because of this policy, and because the school won't tell her what's going on."

Reynolds said the meeting was an opportunity to listen to concerned parents and grandparents.

She told reporters in Des Moines Thursday some parents in the district "feel trapped," and that her proposed state-funded scholarships to send kids to private schools would help them.

"I think parents need an option if they feel that their child is not being educated in a safe environment, or they feel that their values aren’t being represented at school, or they feel that the school district is not focused on a quality education," Reynolds said.

The legislative session is still on hold as Reynolds tries to convince enough House Republicans to pass her bill.

Political opponents, including Democratic candidate for governor Deidre DeJear and Hinson’s opponent Liz Mathis have criticized the private event.

Mathis released a written statement criticizing the event and called it a “secret meeting.” Mathis said the meeting was a way to promote one of the governor’s key agenda points to open state-funded scholarships for private school expenses.

Reynolds signed a bill into law this year that bans transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams. Asked if she’d consider legislation in response to the Linn-Mar policy, Reynolds said she’s “taking a look at everything.”

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter