A new bill being proposed by Republican lawmakers in Iowa would prevent school districts from discussing sexuality or gender identity without first notifying parents.
Thirteen Republicans in the state House of Representatives have advanced the bill, which would allow parents to opt their child out of being taught about LGBTQ identities.
If passed, it would mean that teachers could tell students about former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president, but could not discuss his sexuality or husband Chasten without first informing parents.
Emily Piper, lobbyist with the Iowa Association of School Boards, noted as much during a meeting on Monday to discuss the bill — which the IASB opposes, the Des Moines Register reports.
“What if we’re having a discussion on current events and there’s a presidential candidate — somebody who’s running for the nomination — who’s gay?” she said, referencing Buttigieg. “Can we not have that conversation in a government class, then, without first notifying the parents and allowing them to withdraw their child from the class?”
State Rep. Sandy Salmon (R), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that discussing Buttigieg as a candidate “wouldn’t trigger notifying parents, but discussing his sexual orientation might.”
“Not all students, parents or families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding sexual orientation or gender identity issues,” Salmon said. “And they should be allowed to opt out of instruction that contains that.”
The bill, House File 2201, is sweeping in its coverage, applying to “any program, curriculum, material, test, survey, questionnaire, activity, announcement, promotion or instruction of any kind,” and all subjects in grades K-12.
Supporters of the bill claim that it increases transparency, and shields children from “controversial” LGBTQ people.
“The LGBTQ lifestyle is controversial,” pastor Brad Cranston said. “Not everyone in the state believes there is nothing wrong with these lifestyles. My biblical worldview tells me there is something very definitely wrong. There are many in this state, with no hatred in their heart, who have those sincere beliefs.”
Opponents noted that the vagueness of the bill could theoretically require parents to be notified when schools discuss heterosexual individuals, as heterosexuality is a sexual orientation.
One Iowa Actions director of policy and advocacy Keenan Crow called the bill “onerous” during the Monday meeting.
Lorilei Baker, a mental health professional, said the legislation could lead to stigma and misinformation.
“It assumes children can turn gay by suggestion,” she said.
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