Iowa Republicans move forward with bills aimed at transgender youth

(ABC 6 News) – Iowa House and Senate Republicans passed bills out of subcommittee Tuesday that would limit which bathrooms transgender students can use.

The bills, SF 335 and HSB 208, would require students to only use bathrooms which correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.

Parents, students, school staff, and LGBTQ advocates offered both support and opposition to the bills.

Iowans who are against it, are pushing back on the idea that transgender youth are a risk or threat to others in the bathroom.

“Transgender youth in Iowa have been able to use the restroom that matches their gender identity since 2007,” said Keenan Crow, director of policy and advocacy at One Iowa. “And over that 15-year period we haven’t seen any uptick in school restroom safety incidents.”

Supporters of the bills say it’s common sense that is long overdo and that the bills are proactive.

“I want to point out my concern isn’t about transgenders,” said parent Amber Williams. “It’s not those individuals that are most likely to be sexual predators, but rather the sexual predators that could exploit this situation by posing as transgender to gain access to women and girls.”

One of the bills would allow any Iowan to submit complaints if they believe someone is using the wrong restroom at school. The plan directs the attorney general to investigate complaints.

Students in several school districts across Iowa took part in a walkout on Wednesday, protesting the bills, which they say discriminate against those in the LGBTQ community.

Lawmakers also considered a bill banning gender-affirming care for Iowans under the age of 18.

Supporters say these medications and procedures are harmful to young Iowans, who they believe will likely regret their decisions later in life. 

 “This is not a decision that should be made by them or their parents during their minor years,” said parent Shellie Flockhart. “Their brains don’t fully develop until they’re 26.”

Those in opposition say every medical association supports gender-affirming care along with the evidence based research. 

“We once again need to speak up to keep third-party decision makers out of our exam rooms in our clinics and our hospitals across the state of Iowa,” said Dr. Kaaren Oleson, OBGYN Clinic Section Chief at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines. “And keep the decisions and discussions between a patient and their healthcare provider.”

Bills must be out of committee by the end of the week to be eligible for consideration throughout the rest of the session.