Iowa State Capitol Rotunda
Photo Credit: Angelo Mercado via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa House subcommittee approved a bill on Monday afternoon that would require school districts to notify parents if any LGBTQ-related material is used in class.

Specifically, HF 2201 reads that school districts who offer “any program, curriculum, material, test, survey, questionnaire, activity, announcement, promotion, or instruction of any kind relating to sexual orientation or gender identity” annual notification to parents.

Parental notification is not limited to LGBTQ material introduced in sex education classes. The required notification by the school district is to include information about the material used and how parents can opt their students out if they choose to do so. 

The bill also bans schools from requiring student participation in using any such material. 

HF 2201 also requires school districts to make notification material available to third party agencies or organizations who request it.

The subcommittee voted 2 to 1 to recommend the passage of the legislation. State Reps. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, and Tom Moore, R-Griswold. State Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, voted against its passage.

Salmon told Caffeinated Thoughts that not every parent wants their child to learn about sex outside of the home because of the family’s religious beliefs and she said LGBT issues are no different as those issues involve a family’s religious beliefs about sexuality and sexual ethics.

“Not all students, parents or families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding LGBT issues so they should be allowed to opt their child out of this instruction,” she said.

Salmon sponsored the bill, and it is co-sponsored by State Reps. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, Dean Fisher, R-Montour, Terry Baxter, R-Garner, Phil Thompson, R-Jefferson, David Kerr, R-Morning Sun, Tom Jeneary, R-LeMars, Steven Holt, R-Denison, Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, Thomas Gerhold, R-Atkins, Tedd Gassman, R-Scarville, Anne Osmundson, R-Volga, and Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs.

The bill is supported by groups representing the faith community.

Concerned Women for America of Iowa, Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, Iowa Catholic Conference, and The FAMiLY Leader registered support of the bill.

“We think that parents should have an opportunity to be informed about what is being taught in all aspects of human growth and development. The bill is comprehensive and our group would not be adverse to amendments that would make it easier for schools to comply with that goal,” Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, told Caffeinated Thoughts.

“In controversial matters of faith and morality, it’s important that no side be able to use the force of State to compel people’s children to adopt their views, especially over parental objection. HF 2201 prohibits nothing, but it does require disclosure to parents when public schools teach about sexual orientation and gender identity. Disclosure is especially important because advocates are currently incorporating LGBTQ teaching in Iowa schools in every subject, at every grade level,” Drew Zahn, communications director for The FAMiLY Leader, told Caffeinated Thoughts.

The LGBTQ agenda has made its way into Iowa’s public schools and there no requirement in Iowa law for school districts to notify parents or provide a way for them to opt their student out.

Some schools, like Iowa City Community School District, have approved a LGBTQ Inclusion statement, adopted by the district’s school board in 2018, states the school district is working to adopt “inclusive policies and practices that support and affirm the identities of LGBTQ+ students.”

The statement also encourages students to celebrate “the inclusiveness and diversity that contributes to growth, success, safety, and quality of life for everyone at the Iowa City Community School District.”

Iowa Safe Schools, an opponent of the bill, offers a “Schoolwide Pride Guide” for schools to use in their K-5 classrooms.

School advocacy groups, LGBTQ advocacy groups, big business, and progressive organizations make up the opposition to the bill.

One Iowa Action, Principal Financial Group, Rural School Advocates of Iowa, Urban Education Network of Iowa, National Association of Social Workers, Meredith Corporation, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, Iowa Association of School Boards, Human Rights Campaign, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Iowa Mental Health Planning Council, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, ACLU of Iowa, Iowa Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), Planned Parenthood, and Iowa Safe Schools registered opposition to the HF 2201.

The bill advances for consideration by the full Iowa House Education Committee.

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