Is The New Iowa Education Bill Really In Students’ Best Interest?


The Iowa Senate has approved Senate File 496, which was introduced by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Iowa Republicans want you to believe this education bill is about protecting students from harmful material and giving parents more insight into what their children are learning. However, the bill is unnecessary and harms LGBTQ+ students.

The bill includes one clause that would remove school library books describing “sex acts,” which would remove The Diary of Anne Frank, among many other books from public school libraries. This replaced the governor’s idea, which was to create a statewide list of books successfully challenged and removed in any district in the state, and would require students to receive parental consent to check out these books. Both this clause and another clause, which would prohibit schools from teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation, are about “protecting” students from things that Republican politicians have deemed inappropriate.

While I don’t agree that schools should have explicit books that serve no educational purpose in their libraries, I do feel that there should be exceptions, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, if they provide educational value.  For instance, The Diary of Anne Frank includes Frank’s first-hand account of the times of the Holocaust. However, I feel that most schools already do this, such as Pella High School’s reasonable exclusion of Colleen Hoover books. In addition, if they are not, that is a school board issue, rather than a state government issue. Also, I don’t see the issue about teaching gender identity or sexual orientation in general, but especially when many parents are giving their kids phones at extremely young ages. They can find more information online than what they would be learning in schools. If lawmakers were actually concerned about children accessing inappropriate materials, schools are not the place to be looking. 

Why are politicians so concerned with schools teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation?  Does it happen often? I have gone to school in three different school districts, two in Iowa, and not a single one of them addressed gender identity or sexual orientation at any age, even in high school health class.

The only thing that I see in this bill that actually makes major changes is this clause that requires schools to immediately notify parents if their child comes out as transgender. This will not only result in causing trans children more harm at home, but also violate the safe space that schools often provide to LGBTQ+ students. This shows you what the real priorities and intentions of Iowa Republicans are.

Eight Iowa Republicans previously introduced a bill in February that would ban same-sex marriage in Iowa. Iowa became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009, nearly 14 years ago. The bill was not brought to a vote on the House floor.

Following the passing of the recent education bill, Republicans can no longer claim that it is a small batch of lawmakers who want to take action against LGBTQ+ Iowans. It was not just the eight legislators that proposed the bill against same sex marriage that passed this bill, it was passed in a 34-16 vote on March 22nd, with all Republicans voting to pass the bill, and all Democrats voting against.