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DES MOINES, IOWA — A number of LGBTQ and educational groups are voicing their concerns after Governor Reynolds signed a series of bills into law that place new restrictions on teachers and students. The Governor described the measures as giving more power to parents and teachers. However, critics say the bills are intentionally harmful to LGBTQ youth with some advocating the bills passed by Republican lawmakers will lead to an increase in youth suicide.

Reynolds signed the bills without a public ceremony or comment on Friday before the start of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. Those speaking out about the bills and her non-public announcement on Friday include:

“While we are not surprised that the Governor signed her signature bill containing multiple provisions intended to directly discriminate against LGBTQ students, we are still extremely disappointed. Like many other centerpieces of the Governor’s agenda, this legislation will harm an already vulnerable group of children and will benefit no one. The Governor constantly cites the film Field Of Dreams but maybe she needs to rewatch it. The people banning books in that movie are the villains not the heroes. 

I am surprised by the Governor’s cowardice of signing this bill and the other two explicitly anti-trans bills behind closed doors. She is not willing to look trans kids in the eyes and tell them that she does not want them in our state. Governor Reynold’s has made it clear that she is willing to run on an anti-LGBTQ platform to win votes, but is not willing to give the people that she works for the time of day. 

The Governor still has a chance to reduce the harm her agenda is causing with two of the bills now on her desk. She needs to line-item veto Division V from HF 731 so that our universities can continue their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts unimpeded from state legislators. And she needs to sign HF 602 to add the suicide hotline to student ID cards. This measure is needed now more than ever as we monitor increasing levels of distress and self harm associated with her anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals.”

Courtney Reyes, One Iowa

“The majority of Iowans believe in the worth and dignity of all people and their fundamental civil and human rights. SF496, signed today by Governor Kim Reynolds, is not only contrary to those values but serves to trample on basic rights. 

Fair-minded and compassionate Iowans are disappointed in Iowa’s governor and Republican lawmakers that once again chose to target LGBTQ children and public school educators for political gain.

SF496 will go down in history as one of the most mean-spirited and harmful bills ever to become Iowa law. Erasing the existence of LGBTQ children and families in school curriculum. Outing transgender children and potentially placing them in harms’ way. Eliminating the rights of parents and students by banning books. Disrespecting public school educators.

SF496 is part of a long list of damaging bills passed by Republican lawmakers this year that will cause great harm to Iowa’s children, families, and communities. Republican legislators and Governor Kim Reynolds carry the full responsibility for the harm done today and in the future – not only for Iowa’s LGBTQ community, but also to our state’s reputation that can no longer claim to be welcoming or Iowa nice. It is a sad day for Iowa.”

Connie Ryan, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

“Senate File 496 is anti-child, anti-parent, and anti-educator. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Reynolds has punctuated her crusade against LGBTQ youth this session. Her relentless attacks on the LGBTQ community have placed her shameful record adjacent to the infamous Anita Bryant & Fred Phelps.“

Becky Tayler, Iowa Safe Schools

“Today, with her veto power, Governor Reynolds had an opportunity to support the thousands of great education professionals who work hard to educate, support, and elevate the students in their care. She chose not to exercise this power, and instead, cemented laws that are designed to intimidate, censor, and harm the educators and students who work in and attend our public schools.

We are disappointed that partisan politics and pressure from national anti-public education groups with cookie-cutter legislation is more important than the needs of the almost half-million students who will be negatively impacted”

Mike Beranek, Iowa State Education Association

“It’s disturbing to see more and more extreme ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bills become law in states like Iowa, a state that was once a beacon for inclusion and the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in the Mid-West. This legislation was created to silence LGBTQ+ students and remove spaces for them to be their authentic selves. GLSEN’s recent School Climate Survey showed that students are experiencing increasingly hostile school environments as support declines. These ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bills have a catastrophic effect on queer youth and silence supportive educators who are often a lifeline for them.

Iowa legislators claim that this bill is meant to ‘protect children’ despite the fact that just weeks ago, Governor Reynolds signed a bill to roll back labor protections for children, allowing them to work longer hours and take jobs that had previously been prohibited. Let’s be clear: These extremist leaders don’t care about protecting our youth.”

As these vicious attacks target vulnerable communities across the country, we must work together to rise up and support LGBTQ+ youth.”

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN Executive Director