Mar 28, 2023 - News

How Des Moines schools are handling new transgender bathroom law

Illustration of a transgender pride flag drawn in crayons.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Metro school districts are navigating how to handle a new law that bans transgender students, staff and visitors from using school bathrooms aligning with their gender identity.

  • The law allows students to use private bathrooms but only with parental permission.

Why it matters: After Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the new law, which took effect immediately on March 22, school districts had to quickly change their accommodations for transgender students.

Between the lines: School Administrators of Iowa sent out guidance advising schools to immediately implement the law or be at risk of reprimand that could result in licensure loss.

State of play: Most metro school districts sent emails to families last week sharing how they plan on balancing the law while also trying to support transgender students.

  • Johnston and Des Moines are in the process of finalizing parent request forms and Johnston also provided a spreadsheet of single-stall bathrooms in the district.
  • Waukee and Urbandale are changing the signage at some bathrooms to provide more single-stall options.
  • Several other school boards are still looking over their policies to ensure they don't violate the new law.

What they're saying: Dau Dut Jok, the executive director of DEI at West Des Moines schools, sent out a newsletter following the governor's signing, saying the district is still in full support of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • "Standing with our students, staff, and families impacted by actions that morally exclude them is imperative because the diversity and belonging of each community member makes us better," Dut Jok wrote.

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