Iowa Families and Groups Advocate for LGBTQ+ Inclusion, Challenging State Law on Educational Content

Families and advocacy groups in Iowa have challenged a recently enacted law restricting LGBTQ+ content in schools, arguing it is unconstitutional. Here’s the full story.

Legal Battle Unfolding 

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A legal battle is unfolding in Iowa as several families, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa and Lambda, file a federal lawsuit against a recently enacted state law. 

Book Bans

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The law, passed by the Republican-led legislature, prohibits certain books in school libraries, forbids teachers from addressing LGBTQ+ issues, and mandates disclosure of students’ gender identities in certain situations. 

Suppressing LGBTQ+ Voices

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The lawsuit, announced by the ACLU and Lambda, contends that the law aims to suppress LGBTQ+ voices in schools, eliminate recognition of LGBTQ+ individuals, and ban books featuring sexual or LGBTQ+ content. 

Gender Identity Discussions Forbidden

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Under the legislation, teachers are barred from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation matters with students up to the sixth grade. 

Parental Consent 

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Additionally, school administrators must inform parents if students express a desire to change pronouns or names. 

Christian Bible Exemption

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Notably, the law permits exceptions for religious texts, such as the Christian Bible, in the ban on sexually explicit content in school libraries. 

LGBTQ+ Advocacy Groups

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The legal action is on behalf of Iowa Safe Schools, an organization advocating for LGBTQ+ children, along with seven Iowa students ranging from fourth to 12th grades and their families. 


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The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the law’s enforcement while arguing its unconstitutionality, alleging violations of students’ and teachers’ free speech and equal protection rights. 

First Amendment Rights

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ACLU attorney Thomas Story emphasized “The first amendment does not allow our state or our schools to remove books or issue blanket bans on discussion and materials simply because a group of politicians or parents find them offensive.” 

Protecting Children

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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who signed the law, defended it as a measure to shield children from explicit content. 

Halting Self-Discovery

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One plaintiff, Puck Carlson, a high school senior in Iowa City, highlighted the law’s adverse impact on LGBTQ+ students. Carlson expressed concern for her younger LGBTQ+ sister’s sense of safety in school, noting that removing books with LGBTQ+ themes not only diminishes visibility but also impedes students’ self-discovery. 

Penalties for Violations

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Scheduled to take effect on January 1, the law imposes penalties for violations, putting school administrators, teachers, librarians, and other staff at risk of disciplinary actions, including termination and loss of their state professional education license. 

Books Removed From Shelves

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According to the ACLU, schools statewide have removed numerous titles from their shelves in response to the law, impacting LGBTQ+ students who lose access to narratives reflecting their identities. 

Republican Policy

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The legal challenge is part of a broader trend where Republican-led legislatures, including Iowa, enact laws restricting discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools, leading to legal challenges in multiple states.

Too Early to Celebrate

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The news of the legal challenge was met with some muted support from posters online, with one commenter stating “I’m glad the ACLU is fighting this law, but I’m not ready to throw confetti yet. If this gets to the Supreme Court… well, half the current members of SCOTUS would love to stick it to the ACLU.”

“Approved” Nicknames

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Some online highlighted the difficulty in enforcing these kinds of laws, with one user commenting “My son wanted to turn in an assignment using his initials, but it was rejected because it wasn’t on the ‘approved’ list of nicknames for him.”

Reading Books, Not Burning Them

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Others online took the opportunity to mock laws they see as unworkable and unconstitutional, with one joker posting “Fahrenheit 451 isn’t supposed to be a documentary.”

The post Iowa Families and Groups Advocate for LGBTQ+ Inclusion, Challenging State Law on Educational Content first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Postmodern Studio. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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