State Rep. Sandy Salmon, a Janesville Republican, continues to use the Iowa House of Representatives to weaponize her disdain for the transgender community.
Last year, Salmon sponsored bills that would remove gender identity from the Iowa Civil Rights code, thus making it easier for employers and businesses to discriminate against transgender and non-binary Iowans. She also had a bill that would ban trans girls from playing sports in school, despite evidence that a person’s biology doesn’t make a difference in sports outcomes, and would require those children to “prove” their gender.
Neither went anywhere in the House, but Salmon did take floor time to talk about the sports bill during a different education debate.
And now she’s back at it, with a bill that’s meant to target how trans people are allowed to appear in public.
Thursday, Salmon introduced House File 2058, which prohibits the exposure of the “genitals, buttocks, or female breast” of anyone employed by or patronizing a business, and adds explicit language to the Iowa Civil Rights code that the prohibition is not unfair or discriminatory.
The bill would also amend Iowa’s obscenity law, and charge business owners with serious misdemeanors if they allow anyone who exposes “female breast nipple” to stay at the place of business. The penalty for a serious misdemeanor is one year in jail or a fine between $430 and $2,560.
This bill is a direct response to an event last summer when a trans man at the Pella Aquatic Center didn’t wear swim attire on his top and used the men’s restroom. When approached by staff, he said he doesn’t identify as female and was not required to change by the owners of the pool.
Keenan Crow, the director of policy and advocacy at One Iowa, said this law likely won’t do what Republicans are intending for it to do.
“Likely, under the current statutes, what will happen is this will just effectively ban breastfeeding in public, and it won’t really do anything to trans people,” they said.
“Legislation is best accomplished when it is based on facts, when it is based on a sober assessment of the current policy and a problem that is trying to be fixed. It is not great to legislate based on memes, based on viral bits on social media. That way we have all these unintended consequences and, in this bill, the unintended consequence is we ban breastfeeding in public.”
Crow said they had heard that the teenager wore tape around his chest.
The far-right blog The Iowa Standard fanned the outrage with relentless coverage and aggressively misgendered the teenager. Those posts blew up on social media, and a city council meeting about a community center focused more on the aquatic center when residents demanded changes to the rules.
The City of Pella backed the pool’s decision, citing state and federal law prohibiting discrimination against gender identity.
In July, Salmon called the situation indecent exposure and said it would “destroy” child development. She also explicitly supported removing sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes from the Iowa Civil Rights code.
Salmon has also introduced a bill—HF 2054—which provides requirements for education about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Any school with this type of instruction has to provide parents/guardians with information about the materials, the procedure for how it was chosen, a list of all materials used, copies of materials or information about how to find it, and information about how to excuse their child from it.
The law doesn’t apply if the teacher is answering questions in class, if they’re teaching about a historical or public figure and the topic of their gender or sexuality is necessary, or if they’re responding to a specific act of bullying or harassment.
That doesn’t go as far as State Sen. Jim Carlin’s proposed SF 2024, which would ban teaching gender identity from kindergarten, and require schools get written consent from parents/guardians to teach gender identity to students from first to sixth grade.