Iowa Senate passes school ‘bathroom bill’, ban on gender-affirming care for minors

(ABC 6 News) – Tuesday night, Iowa Senate Republicans passed two bills aimed at transgender youth.

The first, Senate File 482, bans transgender kids from using bathrooms and changing rooms that align with their gender identity. The bill passed along party lines, 33-16. 

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Cherielynn Westrich (R-Ottuwma), said the bill is designed to protect the privacy rights of cisgender children, a person’s whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth.

Democrats, however, said the bill would inspire fear and violence. 

“It gives license to a new core of potty police,” said Sen. Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids). “Instead of minding their own business and just going to the bathroom, kids will use this to bully other kids. Bills like this continue a line of efforts to use fear and violence to force people into gender roles assigned by society.” 

Meanwhile, Senate File 538, which bans all medical gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18, also passed along party lines, 33-16. 

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Edler (R-State Center), said gender-affirming care is unethical to perform on children and not approved by the FDA. 

But critics said passing the bill would have a drastic, negative impact on mental health for transgender kids. 

“These children are precious, they deserve to live,” Bennet said. “They deserve a voice in their care. And no one is more concerned about that than themselves, their parents, their doctors and their faith leaders, all of whom come together to form teams to support these kids so that we can get them to 18 in the first place. So, I’m very sad about this bill tonight. A vote for this bill is a vote for trans youth suicide.” 

Iowa House and Senate Republicans passed both bills out of subcommittee on Feb. 28.

RELATED: Iowa Republicans move forward with bills aimed at transgender youth

Both bills will now advance to the Iowa House for a vote.