Families sue to block Iowa law banning books, gender identity discussions
The big picture: The suit comes amid a surge in attempted book bans in schools and public libraries across the country, and is just the latest battle in a culture war over what kids should be exposed to.
Driving the news: The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Lambda Legal and Jenner & Block LLP announced the lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday.
- They claimed the state law "seeks to silence LGBTQ+ students, erase any recognition of LGBTQ+ people from public schools, and bans books with sexual or LGBTQ+ content."
Context: The law, which passed earlier this year via a majority Republican Legislature, forbids "any program, curriculum, test, survey, questionnaire, promotion, or instruction relating to gender identity or sexual orientation" in grades K-6.
- It also requires public schools K-12 to remove all books containing "descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act," except the Bible.
- Teachers must notify parents if a student asks to go by a different name or pronoun.
- It also requires written parental permission if a student wants to go by a pronoun or name not assigned at birth.
- At the same time, bans on critical race theory and limiting how race is taught in conservative-leaning states and school districts have led some educators to alter or stop teaching Black history lessons, Axios' Kristal Dixon reports.
What they're saying: Nathan Maxwell, one of the attorneys representing the families, called the Iowa law unconstitutional.
- "Schools should be safe havens that protect all students — including LGBTQ+ students — so they can learn and thrive in an affirming environment," he said in a statement. "[This law] sends the message that LGBTQ+ kids are too shameful to be acknowledged and endangers not only their mental health, but also their physical safety and well-being."
Details: The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Iowa Safe Schools, a non-profit organization supporting LGBTQ and allied youth, along with seven students and their families affected by the law.