Iowa lawmakers decline to advance bill removing gender identity as protected class News
Iqkotze, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Iowa lawmakers decline to advance bill removing gender identity as protected class

Iowa lawmakers declined to advance a piece of legislation on Wednesday that would have removed gender identity as a protected class under the state’s civil rights law. In a 3-0 tally, a subcommittee of the Iowa legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted against moving the bill forward.

Although the bill sought to add a new category to Iowa’s civil rights rules, “a diagnosis for gender dysphoria or any condition related to a gender identity disorder,” the proposal was tracked closely by advocates, who saw such the change as a threat to LGBTQ+ rights. The Human Rights Campaign, one such advocacy group, called the defeat of the bill a win. The group said, “[A]n Iowa House subcommittee announced they will NOT advance a bill that would have removed gender identity from Iowa’s Civil Rights Act! This ensures that LGBTQ+ Iowans will remain protected citizens!”

Notwithstanding Wednesday’s progress, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill in May 2023 which limited gender identity and sexual orientation instruction in schools throughout the state.

The vote comes amid a torrent of anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in conservative states. According to the ACLU, there are 388 such bills “attacking LGBTQ+ rights” actively under consideration throughout state legislatures in the US. Last year, a prominent LGBTQ+ rights group declared a state of emergency in the US, echoing concerns from a UN expert that LGBTQ+ rights in the US were being “deliberately undermined” by state governments. LGBTQ+ rights in the US are falling more and more along state and partisan lines, with Human Rights Campaign calling Republican-controlled states “increasingly hostile to LGBTQ+ people.”

State legislators introduced more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2023, a historic high. Tennessee and Florida attracted particular attention for strict laws targeting drag performances and school discussions. Laws are not limited to those states, however, with TexasNorth DakotaSouth DakotaNebraska and others passing bills banning gender-affirming care. More recently, a West Virginia’s legislator introduced a bill to criminalize transgender people as “obscene matter.”