Gender Transition Procedures, Bathroom Privacy, and Age-Appropriate Materials
In the past few months, the Iowa Legislature has considered a wide range of topics, from optometrists to gender issues to hunting black bears, and much more in between! I wanted to give an update on a few hot-topic bills that have passed through the House of Representatives recently. These specific bills have to do with the issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, specifically relating to children and schools. Read below for bill summaries and progress.
House File 623/Senate File 538- Gender Transition Procedures
This bill has now been passed by the House and Senate.
Here is what this bill accomplishes:
Prohibits a healthcare provider in the state of Iowa from knowingly engaging in medical practices that are intended to change the appearance of, or affirm the perceived gender of a minor (anyone under 18) if that appearance or gender is different from the minor’s biological sex.
These medical practices/procedures include: administering cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers, surgeries that remove any healthy, non-diseased body part or attempt to construct body parts not congruent with the child’s biological sex.
Makes exceptions for minors born with a medically verifiable sexual development disorder and treating infections from any previous transgender-related procedures.
House File 348- Gender Identity Instruction in Schools
This bill has passed the House, has been introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Education Committee.
This bill, if passed, would prohibit instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation in school districts or charter schools in grades Kindergarten through 6th. Current Iowa Code Section 256.11 details what subject areas are to be taught in public and charter schools in Iowa. The current requirement is for "age-appropriate and research-based human growth and development" to be taught in grades K-6 in each school district. This bill adds a new code section (279.77) which states that a school district may not provide any program, curriculum, test, survey, questionnaire, promotion, or instruction relating to gender identity or sexual orientation to students in kindergarten through grade six. The bill does not eliminate the human growth and development instruction, only requires that instruction to be in compliance with the new section. Students are NOT prohibited from discussing topics related to gender identity on their own, nor does it ban students or teachers from speaking about their families who may happen to identify as LGBTQ.
House File 597- Age-Appropriate Materials in Schools
This bill has passed the House, been introduced to the Senate, and referred to the Senate Education Committee.
If passed, this bill would amend the educational standards section of the Iowa Code to say that the State Board of Education shall require that an age-appropriate approach is used by school districts and the educational program must be taught from an age-appropriate approach. It also defines the standard for school libraries: each district shall establish a K-12 library program that is consistent with educational standards established in this section, contains only age-appropriate materials, and supports the student achievement goals.
The bill would clarify the definition of “age-appropriate” in the Iowa Code to mean: topics, messages, and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children, based on developing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity typical for that age group. New in this legislation, the definition of “age-appropriate” shall NOT include any material with descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act as defined in the current Iowa Code.
House File 622- The Bathroom Privacy Bill
This bill has passed the House and Senate.
This legislation gives schools guidance on bathroom and locker room requirements. It states that people may not use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing area that does not correspond to the sex on their birth certificate in K-12 schools. It specifies that this applies to any locker room or changing area for extra curricular activities and for overnight trips.
The bill allows for accommodations to be made for students who request them, including the use of single-occupancy restrooms. An accommodation may not include using the restroom or changing facility that is not congruent with the student’s biological sex.
As always, I welcome my constituents to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns about any legislation or issues that are important to you.
Iowa House District 88: Jefferson, Mahaska, and Keokuk Counties