Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law on Friday that limits educational instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity for students through sixth grade.
Senate File 496 focuses on education in Iowa, restricting the topics teachers may speak about, as well as removing all books that include “depictions of a sex act” from schools. Specifically, the bill prescribes standards for addressing LGBTQ+ topics, requiring they be handled in an “age-appropriate” manner for children. Finally, the bill requires a school administrator to contact a child’s parent if they wish to use a new pronoun. There are concerns that this forced outing of students that may identify as nonbinary or transgender could lead to rejection from their parents or guardians, fueling negative mental health outcomes.
Reynolds signed a slew of other education bills on Friday, ranging from updating requirements for mandatory reporters to procedures regulating school improvement plans. Of the legislation, she said:
This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future. Education is a great equalizer and everyone involved – parents, educators, our children – deserves an environment where they can thrive.
Iowa is just the latest state to limit LGBTQ+ topics. Alabama’s House recently advanced a bill that would define biological sex, eliminating recognition of transgender identities. Additionally, the American Library Association found that school book bans target literature containing LGBTQ+ and minority characters, limiting children’s exposure to these identities.