Iowa lawmakers advance two ‘harmful and unnecessary’ anti-LGBTQ+ bills in one day

Republicans introduce measure to pass national 'Don't Say Gay' law

Iowa lawmakers have advanced two sinister anti-LGBTQ+ bills, emulating Florida’s cruel Don’t Say Gay law while seeking to strip away parental rights to make healthcare decisions for their trans children.

The bills were both passed by the state’s House of Representatives on Wednesday (8 March).

The trans healthcare bill, Senate File 538, prohibits gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18.

It passed in the House 58 to 39, and because it is a Senate bill, and has already passed in that chamber, it is now before the state’s Republican governor Kim Reynolds to be signed into law.

The bill is so extreme that a number of House Republicans even voted against it, as reported by Iowa Starting Line.

State representative Chad Ingels is reported as saying he wanted the people of Iowa to know “everybody in this majority party in this Capitol … will believe in this bill” and that he believed “everybody should get the opportunity to be happy”.

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Meanwhile, Republican attorney and politician Brian Lohse said he did not believe legislators should make gender-affirming decisions for others, particularly when Republicans claim the bill is about reclaiming parental rights.

The Don’t Say Gay copycat bill, formally known as House File 348, would ban sexual orientation and gender identity from being taught in kindergarten through to the sixth grade.

It was passed 62 to 35, with only one Republican joining all House Democrats in opposing it.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Republicans argue the legislation was about focussing on academics and leaving sex and gender conversations to parents.

But Democrats in the House argue the bill would be stigmatising and could create unsafe environments for LGBTQ+ students.

LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organisation The Trevor Project has condemned both bills, as well as a slew of others going through the Iowa legislature.

“Fifty-two per cent of transgender and non-binary youth in Iowa seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 22 per cent attempted suicide,” the organisation’s Kasey Suffredini said. “This is a public health crisis that is entirely preventable.”

“The government should not be inserting itself between parents and doctors and making schools less safe for the most marginalised students,” he said, pointing out that research “consistently” shows discriminating trans youth contributes to suicide risk.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQ+ civil rights organisation, condemned the Don’t Say Gay bill, which now advances to the state Senate for scrutiny.

The organisation is urging senators to vote against it.

HRC legislative counsel Courtnay Avant said it was “harmful and unnecessary” and sent LGBTQ+ students the message they were not valued.

“All Iowans deserve better than politicians playing political games that undermine the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth while also violating their fundamental human rights to equality and lives free of discrimination.”

The Iowa state legislature has seen many anti-LGBTQ+ laws floated recently.

In late February, Republicans proposed that marriage should be defined as between “one biological make and one biological female” — although it is unclear how the state could enforce the bill into law given the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in 2015.

Earlier in the month, a bill was tabled that would allow trans students to be bullied by banning students and staff from being disciplined for deadnaming someone.