Iowa law bans lessons on sexual topics aimed at young students, beefs up parental rights

lowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill Friday prohibiting lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future,” Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement Friday.

“Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved – parents, educators, our children – deserves an environment where they can thrive.”

The bill addressing gender identity and sexual orientation lessons, Senate File 496, was part of a larger set of seven bills related to education that Gov. Reynolds signed the same day.

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“The rules of the state board shall require that an age-appropriate, multicultural, and gender-fair approach is used by schools and school districts,” SF 496 says, in part.

SF 496 requires schools to notify parents if a student asks to use different name or different pronouns, the Des Moines Register reported.

In addition to barring gender identity and sexual orientation lessons for young students, the bill also requires material depicting sex acts to be removed from Iowa schools’ libraries, according to the National Review.

Opponents of the SF 496 claim it will have a “chilling effect” on librarians, in part because the language in the bill is “vague,” CNN reported. The outlet noted that similar laws in Florida incentivize teachers, media specialists, and school administrators to “proactively remove books from shelves.”

Among the materials challenged by schools in multiple states as age-inappropriate are graphic novels with illustrations too explicit to be shown on televised news programs.

Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, for example, prompted intense pushback from parents concerned about its graphic illustrations of sexual acts, as TheBlaze reported.

The bill requires schools to post their collections online and to establish a process for parents to challenge library materials’ age-appropriateness.

The bill outlines consequences for school districts or employees violating the library materials provisions. A first violation results in a written warning. Second and subsequent violations are subject to potential disciplinary action after a hearing.

The bill also requires parental consent for school surveys asking about students’ health, political affiliation, sexual behavior, illegal activities, religion, or family income, the Register reported.

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