Iowa law limits teaching about gender identity, removes books depicting sex acts from school libraries

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa teachers will be banned from raising issues of gender identity and sexual orientation with students through sixth grade, and all books depicting sex acts will be banned. removed from school libraries, under a bill signed by the Republican governor of Iowa. Kim Reynolds Friday.

The new law is among similar measures that have been approved in other Republican-dominated state houses across the country. As with many of these proposals, Republicans in Iowa framed their action as a common-sense effort to ensure that parents can monitor what their children are learning in school and that teachers don’t look into it. topics such as gender and sexuality.

Despite opposition from all Democratic lawmakers, Republicans who hold large majorities in the State House and Iowa Senate approved the measure in April and there was no doubt that Reynolds would sign it; she had made issues related to gender identity and sexuality a central point of her legislative agenda this year.

“This legislative session, we have won transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates binding regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our children. in their future,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Under the new law, school administrators would also be required to notify parents if students request to change their pronouns or names. Religious texts will be exempt from the library ban on books describing sexual acts.

Democrats and LGBTQ groups have argued that the restrictions would harm children by limiting their ability to be open with teachers about gender and sexuality issues and to see their lives reflected in books and other curricula.

The law’s passage was no surprise, said Keenan Crow, director of policy and advocacy at LGBTQ equality group One Iowa. “But we are still very disappointed with it.”

“Like many other elements of his agenda, this legislation hits a vulnerable group of children and benefits no one,” Crow said of Reynolds.

The law also requires schools to post a list of books in libraries online, along with instructions for parents on how to review them and classroom materials, and to request that any materials be removed. Schools would need parental approval before they can offer student surveys on many topics, including mental health issues, gender and political affiliation.

Earlier this year, Reynolds signed two bills into law restricting which restrooms transgender students can use and banning gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers, for people under 18. Last year, Reynolds signed a Republican-backed measure that bars transgender women from participating in women’s high school and women’s college athletic classes. Like the most recent law, both measures echo bills passed by Republican states across the country.

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