DES MOINES, Iowa — Stakeholders and lawmakers went back and forth on Monday over a House bill that some are calling “anti-LGBTQ” legislation.
The bill would require schools to notify parents about any lesson or curriculum related to sexual orientation or gender identity, in case parents want to excuse their child from class. Some say it comes down to a matter of parental rights over what is being taught in schools.
“Parents have the right to know when it comes to a controversial issue what their children are being taught in schools they’re paying for,” said Burlington Pastor Brad Cranston.
Those against the bill say it continues a legislative trend of marginalizing and attacking LGBTQ youth.
“It assumes children can turn gay by suggestion,” said Lorilei Baker, an Urbandale mental health professional.
The bill would not ban LGBTQ topics from teachers’ lesson plans, but the language isn’t clear as to what classroom topics related to sex and gender would trigger notifying parents.
“What if we’re having a discussion on current events and there’s a presidential candidate who is gay? Can we not have that conversation in the government class?” said Emily Piper from the Iowa Association of School Boards.
When referring to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who is hoping to become the first openly gay nominee of a major political party, Rep. Sandy Salmon said just talking about him in class wouldn’t trigger notifying parents but discussing his sexual orientation might.
If the measure moves on, details like that will be something lawmakers have to figure out in the language of the bill.