Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs education law on book bans, teaching of LGBTQ topics

(ABC 6 News) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Friday signed an education reform law which includes prohibiting instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation in schools for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The bill, SF 496, would ban calling students by their nickname or using other pronouns that do not appear on their birth certificate unless granted permission by a parent, and requires schools to tell parents, or the Department of Human Services, if a student expresses a different gender identity than the one on their birth certificate.

The bill also requires school districts to put all instruction material including books and lesson plans online, along with steps on how to request a book to be removed. Any book removed from one school district would then go on a removal list with every school district in the state needing parental consent for students wishing to check out the book.

The Governor’s bill also bans the instruction of gender identity and sexual activity for kindergarten through third grade students. It also removes topics in grades 7 through 12 regarding HPV, the availability of HPV vaccines, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

“This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future,” Gov. Reynolds said in a press release. “Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved – parents, educators, our children – deserves an environment where they can thrive.”

The bill passed the Iowa legislature with no Democrat support. It passed the Iowa Senate on a 34-16 vote on April 19, and the Iowa House on a 57-38 vote on April 20.

Opponents of the law called it an attack on Iowa’s LGBTQ community.

One Iowa Executive Director, Courtney Reyes, condemned the bill by saying, “While we are not surprised that the Governor signed her signature bill containing multiple provisions intended to directly discriminate against LGBTQ students, we are still extremely disappointed. Like many other centerpieces of the Governor’s agenda, this legislation will harm an already vulnerable group of children and will benefit no one.”

A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll from March found a majority of Iowans support restrictions on LGBTQ topics being taught in Iowa schools. 54% of Iowa adults say they favor bills that would ban teaching gender identity and sexual orientation, while 52% of Iowa adults say they favor banning gender-affirming medical treatment for minors.