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Bill To Limit Teaching About Gender Identity Advances In Iowa Senate

iowa capitol
John Pemble
IPR file
Republicans on a Senate subcommittee have advanced a bill that would require schools to get parental consent to include gender identity in elementary school lessons.

Republicans on a Senate subcommittee advanced a billTuesday that would require schools to get parental consent to include gender identity in elementary school lessons and ban related instruction in kindergarten classes.

Under the bill, schools would have to get written consent from the parent or guardian of students in grades one through six to “include instruction relating to gender identity.” If written consent is not provided, the student may opt out of lessons related to gender identity. Eight Republican senators co-sponsored the bill.

The Family Leader, a group that advocates for socially conservative positions, is the only organization that registered in support of the bill. Lobbyists for the group argued parents should always be able to decide if their kids hear about gender identity.

“SF167 offers elementary and middle school children some protection from indoctrination by gender theory activists, undermining parental teaching, and ignoring biological reality,” said Daniel Sunne, a lobbyist for The Family Leader.

High school student Paras Bassuk of Iowa City said the bill would undermine efforts to build acceptance and respect through gender inclusive lessons.

“The removal of gender identity instruction is especially dangerous for transgender and gender nonconforming youth,” Bassuk said. “If most students are not taught that gender identity is real, there is an increased potential for bullying and harassment for trans students in and beyond school.”

Opponents of the bill added that inclusive lessons contribute to better mental health and academic outcomes, and reduce suicides among kids who are transgender.

Lobbyists for school groups said instruction on specific topics should be left to local school boards, and that most schools already notify parents about human growth and development lessons.

Republican Sens. Jim Carlin of Sioux City and Ken Rozenboom of Oskaloosa voted to advance the bill to the full Senate Education Committee. Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, voted against the bill.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter