Feb 22, 2023 - Politics

Iowa's flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ bills reflect nationwide trend

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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

GOP lawmakers nationwide are filing a record number of bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community — including here in Iowa.

Driving the news: Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers have proposed a record-breaking 19 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people already this year. The previous annual record was 15, Keenan Crow of advocacy group One Iowa tells Axios.

  • Nationwide, 340 LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in state legislatures, including a record number targeting transgender people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

State of play: Iowa's LGBTQ+ bills that have the most support from Republican lawmakers relate to classroom policies.

  • A bill from Reynolds bans teachers from speaking about gender identity in K-3rd grade classrooms and using a student's preferred nickname and pronouns without parental permission.
  • It also requires the Iowa Department of Education to create a "book removal" list. If a book is successfully challenged and removed from a district's library, it would require parental permission to check out — no matter what school district.

The big picture: The majority of Iowa's LGBTQ+ bills mirror what's being proposed in other red states. A new bill banning minors from drag shows is similar to legislation in Tennessee.

  • The “Don't Say Gay" portion of Reynolds’ bill uses the same language as the one Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year.

What they're saying: Especially as mask and COVID-19 vaccine debates die down, targeting LGBTQ+ people is becoming the new "wedge issue" nationwide, Crow says.

The other side: Reynolds has argued the bill is meant to give parents more knowledge and choice over what's happening in classrooms, the Register reports.


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