civil rights

Natalie Krebs/IPR file photo

A Polk County judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a law that would allow organizations using public insurance dollars – like Medicaid – to opt out of covering gender-affirming surgery.

federal courthouse
Courtesy of U.S. Southern District of Iowa

A senior official at the Department of Human Services testified in a federal court in Des Moines Wednesday that the state agency has been working to provide more mental health services to a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys.

federal courthouse
Courtesy of U.S. Southern District of Iowa

A clinical psychologist said the use of solitary confinement and a physical restraint device at a state-run school for deliquent teenage boys "falls way outside of professional standards."

federal courthouse
Courtesy of U.S. Southern District of Iowa

An official at a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys testified in federal court Monday that the use of an isolation chamber and physical restraints is for the protection, not punishment, of the students.

federal courthouse
Courtesy of U.S. Southern District of Iowa

A state-run school for delinquent teenage boys has failed to meet professional standards for treating and screening mental illness, according to expert witness testimony during the opening day of a federal trial against the Boys State Training School in Eldora.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

This year has been a political roller coaster for the state’s transgender population. A March state Supreme Court decision overturned a ban on using state Medicaid dollars for transition-related surgery. Then lawmakers enacted a provision that would alter the Civil Rights Act so Medicaid could once again opt out of paying.

Courtesy of the ACLU

The ACLU of Iowa has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a law that denies transgender Iowans on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery.

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

This post was updated Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 2:48 p.m.

Republicans at the Iowa Capitol voted Friday and Saturday to ban publicly-funded health insurance, including Medicaid, from covering transition-related surgery for transgender Iowans.

This change to the Iowa Civil Rights Act was embedded in a budget bill on one of the last days of Iowa’s legislative session.

Alexa McDowell

Only 11 sites in Iowa are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as having played an important role in African American history. The State Historic Preservation Office is hoping Iowans participate in a new project that will put more spots on the map – the 20th Century Civil Rights Survey Project.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with those involved: Paula Mohr, architectural historian at the State Historical Society of Iowa, and Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP.

Louisa Dewey

The Trump administration is considering redefining the definition of gender under some civil rights laws in a move that could rollback protections for transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people. This move threatens to legally invalidate their existence by narrowly defining gender as based on sex assignment at birth.

John Pemble

Donna Red Wing was once referred to as the most dangerous woman in America. She will be remembered as one of the great civil rights advocates of the 21st century. 

Red Wing died earlier this week, and during this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with One Iowa Founder Sharon Malheiro about Red Wing's life and legacy.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Religious groups on Iowa’s university campuses would have more freedom to choose their leaders, under a GOP-sponsored bill that advanced in the Iowa House today.

Backers say the bill will address a conflict at the University of Iowa, where a student group lost its certification after denying a leadership post to a gay student.    

Rep. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville) calls the university’s action outrageous. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A so-called religious freedom bill advanced in the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate Monday, in spite of vigorous objections from major business groups.   

The bill would give Iowans more legal protection if they deny services to gay and lesbian people for religious reasons.   

Madeleine McCormick / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg were among those celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.

Gov. Reynolds named two women the recipients of the 2018 MLK Achievement Award.

CEO of Betty Andrews Media and President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP Betty Andrews, and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu, received the award at a ceremony in Des Moines.

Andrews stood with her grandson to accept the award. She acknowledged that King’s legacy allowed social justice work to continue, and it will continue long after her time.

University of Iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

A now-defunct student organization is suing the University of Iowa in federal court for religious discrimination. Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) lost its status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student. 

According to the lawsuit, BLinC told a member he wasn’t eligible for a leadership position because "his decision to enter into same-sex relationships was inconsistent with BLinC's religious beliefs."

Resisting Hate

Aug 24, 2017

The racial violence that occurred in Charlottesville last week has ignited an intense, nationwide discourse about race in America. Many people are unsure how to broach the subject of race, as well as the differences between free speech and hate speech.

Library of Congress / Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection

Fifty years ago, on March 22, 1967, Central College in Pella hosted one of America’s most influential citizens: Martin Luther King Jr., who addressed an audience of 1300 in the college gymnasium. Just over a year later, King was assassinated.

To mark the anniversary, Central College has planned several events to honor King’s legacy and vision, as well as celebrate ways that Central participates in ongoing efforts toward social justice.

WIKICOMMONS / Richc80

The city of Nevada’s Chief of Police says his department has arrested an Ames man who reportedly threatened to kill, brand, and cause bodily harm to a transgender high school student. The student's gender identity is reportedly why he was targeted by 65-year-old Mondell Olson. 

Olson is accused of leaving two voicemails with these threats on a Nevada Community School District phone line. Chief Ricardo Martinez says Olson also sent an inappropriate and unwanted text message to a district teacher that was sexual in nature.

Nancy Walleser

Though Iowa’s largest Women’s March took place in Des Moines on Saturday, several smaller sister marches were held around the state. The smallest occurred in Harpers Ferry, a town located in northeast Iowa with a population of less than 300.

Harpers Ferry march organizer Nancy Walleser says five people rallied in support of gender equality and other social justice issues.

"If you don't stand up, who will?" says Walleser.

John Pemble /IPR file photo

As many as 10,000 are expected to attend the Iowa Women’s March on Saturday. The Des Moines demonstration is one of dozens taking place across the country, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. 

"The whole point of this is to bring people together of all genders and backgrounds, so we can stand together in social justice and human rights issues that deeply impact all of us," says Sandy Mostaert, the state representative for the Iowa Chapter of the Women’s March. "Women’s rights are human rights."

There have been many protests in the United States recently. 

After Election Day, protests sprung up across the nation, the Black Lives Matter protests have been going on since 2013, and tensions have escalated at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota, where protesters stand against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

This hour on River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on protesting in America, from past to present.

John Pemble / IPR

In the 1920s, bar associations refused African American lawyers membership, so a dozen lawmakers formed their own in Des Moines. The founding of the National Bar Association in 1925 will be honored with a 30-foot statue this spring called “A Monumental Journey.”  It will be installed this spring in a downtown Des Moines park.

Civil rights education tends to focus on the past, but if recent events have taught us anything, it's that the work of the civil rights movement isn't finished.

Some teachers in Iowa are working to change the way that we talk about the civil rights movement, and to change the details we include about what happened. 

ACLU of Iowa

A long-time employee at the Iowa Women’s Prison in Mitchellville has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

According to the complaint, 34-year old Department of Corrections transgender nurse Jesse Vroegh is being denied access to male restrooms and locker rooms, but  is allowed to use unisex facilities instead.       

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

The much anticipated ruling on felon voting from the Iowa Supreme Court will be released Thursday morning.

Iowa has one of the most restrictive felon voting policies in the nation.

It is one of three states that permanently disenfranchises someone if they commit a felony. 

That’s because Iowa’s constitution states anyone convicted of an infamous crime forever loses the right to vote. So what’s an infamous crime? The Iowa Supreme Court will likely tell us.  

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

Dianne Dillon Ridgley

Two events put Henry Hampton on the path to creating an award-winning documentary series about the Civil Rights movement. That's according to his friend, human rights and environmental activist Dianne Dillon Ridgley.

Courtesy of the Economic Policy Institiute

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has ignited a nationwide conversation about racial polarization and civil unrest when it comes to relationships with minorities and the police. 

Maria Filippone, Glori's mother.

Roosevelt High School student Glori Dei Filippone of Des Moines is being honored with the ACLU of Iowa’s annual Mannheimer Youth Advocacy Award. 

This past January the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based Christian group with anti-LGBTQ views, planned to picket East High School in Des Moines. The then-16-year-old Filippone and her friend Cole Rehbein organized a lunch-time “Love Rally” where they chanted messages of support for LGBTQ equality. Roughly 700 students from across Des Moines attended the rally.

IowaPolitics.com / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Iowa gained attention for the Supreme Court decision overturning a ban on same sex marriage. But the ruling was no surprise given the court's history.

Pages