Governor Kim Reynolds just signed Iowa’s third anti-LGBTQ law passed in the 2023 legislative session. This was done on the Friday evening before a holiday weekend without any press.
This new law forces schools to out trans students, which puts those students’ lives and mental health at risk. It also removes information about HPV and HIV from health classes and bans all books and materials with any sexual content, except religious texts. Not graphic content. ANY sexual content. The bill bans any discussion of gender and sexual orientation in grades K-6. In addition, schools would need parental approval before they could give surveys to students related to numerous topics, including mental health issues, sex and political affiliation.
This is yet another bill that stokes discrimination and hate, attacks vulnerable kids, censors books, and undermines public health. Our state is under the complete control of a party determined to battle culture war issues rather than create policies that will make our state stronger and our lives better. With unchecked power, the majority party in the Iowa legislature and executive offices no longer have to yield to the will of the people. We are helpless to defend our children, our schools and our communities against the scourge created by the “culture war” thrust upon us.
As helpless as we feel in this moment of darkness and despair, there is still hope. Iowa has long been a swing state. The bellwether state that chose presidents, senators, congressmen, senators, and state leaders based on our strong community values. We have been the forerunners in human rights and equality. We earned the title “Iowa Nice”.
I believe that Iowa still exists. It has just been beaten down by all the turmoil created by outside special interest groups seeking to advance their own agenda and secure their power. To overcome the powerful influences controlling our state and manipulating our elected leaders, we have to reconnect with our communities and restore our faith in the state we love. We have to overcome complacency and despair and be willing to take part in our democracy.
Speak to your friends, families and neighbors. Help them see that there is still hope, but we need them to take action. We need people to challenge misinformation. We need people to speak out against hate, discrimination and the slow destruction of our schools. Most of all, we need people to vote.