No, we’re not kidding.
An Iowa House panel advanced a measure this week that would prohibit school districts from allowing “instruction of any kind” related to sexual orientation or gender identity, without first notifying parents and giving them an opportunity to opt out their children.
One of the 13 Republican co-sponsors of House File 2201 acknowledged that, as written, the proposal could bar a teacher in a government class from mentioning Democratic presidential frontrunner Pete Buttigieg‘s sexuality. Coincidentally, Buttigieg won the Iowa Democratic caucus last week.
The bill applies to “any program, curriculum, material, test, survey, questionnaire, activity, announcement, promotion or instruction of any kind” related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Iowa already allows parents to opt their children out of instruction in human growth and development, but HF 2201 would apply to all courses.
“It assumes children can turn gay by suggestion,” said Lorilei Baker, an Urbandale mental health professional, according to NBC Channel 13.
GOP Rep. Randy Salmon, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told the Des Moines Register it is needed because, “Not all students, parents or families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding sexual orientation or gender identity issues. And they should be allowed to opt out of instruction that contains that.”
Emily Piper of the Iowa Association of School Boards, which opposes the bill, raised the example of Buttigieg’s candidacy.
“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?” Piper said.
According to Channel 13, Salmon said merely discussing Buttigieg’s candidacy in class “wouldn’t trigger notifying parents, but discussing his sexual orientation might.”
Salmon acknowledged that the language in the bill needs to be refined, according to the Register. “She told reporters that her intention is not to have a simple mention of a historical figure in history class to necessarily require notification.”
Salmon was one of two Republicans who voted Monday to advance the measure to the full House Education Committee. Democratic Rep. Art Staed cast the lone dissenting vote.
“We have a system for that with local school boards,” Staed said. “To say that there’s no parent input right now, I think, is ridiculous. I just retired from teaching two years ago. I can tell you, parent input is always part of the process of everything that we do.”
Earlier this year, an Arizona Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would have banned any discussion of homosexuality in schools. But she later withdrew the measure in response to national outrage.
According to One Iowa, HF 2201 is among at least 13 anti-LGBT bills introduced in the current legislative session.