Iowa LGBTQ community has had enough with new bills

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

A coalition of LGBTQ organizations, business and people in Iowa have had enough with the anti-LGBTQ bills in the state legislature.

According to the ACLU legislation tracker, Iowa currently has 27 bills under consideration. Only Oklahoma and neighboring Missouri have more anti-LGBTQ bills in process.

Nationally, there are 378 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been submitted to state legislatures, a new record.

While a couple of bills, one that would ban marriage equality and another that would make it a crime for minors to see drag, many others are still moving forward.

All of the activists, business people and others have said all of the bills will harm people and enough is enough.

“These baseless ongoing attacks on LGBTQ Iowans need to end now,” said Courtney Reyes, executive director of One Iowa. “This legislation is turning our state into a national laughing stock, encouraging both employees and employers alike to flee from our state and never return. This will only further exacerbate our workforce crisis and make our state less attractive to new businesses and those currently deciding where they should relocate. We call on legislative leaders to denounce this harmful, unnecessary legislation and stop it in its tracks. Enough is enough.”

A majority of the bills are aimed at schools.

HF 348 bar any mention of gender identity or orientation from kindergarten through grade six. It has been placed on the calendar. HSB 222, which a subcommittee has recommended for passage, would bar any education on HIV in any school, public or private, in the state. HF 482 would require students to use restrooms that match their gender assigned at birth. It has been assigned to committee.

SF 496, which has passed committee, would require all schools to regularly review all books for “obscene” or “sexually explicit” material. The bill’s definition of sexually explicit include gender identity.

“The Iowa Legislature’s trend of bullying LGBTQ youth has reached a fever pitch this legislative session,” said Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director Becky Taylor. “The avalanche of proposed legislation is entirely intended to score cheap political points at the expense of children’s lives. These efforts are not original or grassroots; rather, they are targeted political assaults from out of state, dark money groups, seeking to divide Iowans. Iowans must stand up and protect our children and schools from these radical attacks.”

Other bills that are advancing include ones that ban gender-affirming care for youth, allow healthcare professionals to refuse treatment on the basis of “religious grounds,” and a bill that would define gender as biological sex assigned at birth.

Jason Zeman, owner of Basix and Studio 13 in Cedar Rapids, said “The systematic attack on the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community is abhorrent and disheartening. We are united and will continue to fight to make sure every LGBTQIA+ Iowan lives with freedom, safety, and can be their true self without government interference.”

Joe Reilly, President of Iowa City Pride, issued this statement to those advancing the legislation:

“Our state motto is ‘Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain’, however this current legislative session feels more like “Rights for me and not for thee”, said Iowa City Pride President Joe Reilly. “The legislature needs to refocus their efforts on policies that benefit ALL Iowans and not stifle others for the sake of personal comforts.”

A rally at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines is set for Sunday, March 5 at 2 p.m. The Real MainStream has listings of this and other events across the state.