Iowa Republicans continued leaning into their obsession with LGBTQ children and school libraries during a Thursday night forum hosted by Moms For Liberty.
Moms For Liberty is a right-wing organization pushing to ban books in schools nationwide and to restrict education about LGBTQ people.
Targeting LGBTQ Students
“There’s been a flood of mental illness, let’s be really honest about what we’re seeing,” said Rep. Jeff Shipley, referring to trans people. “And you could argue this in a lot of different ways, but you have government institutions—these schools—enabling and assisting in the formation of mental illness.”
Last year during a House floor speech, Shipley went on a tirade where he equated trans-Iowans to cancer and diagnosed them with mental illness. He made last night’s comment after explaining how the federal government and Iowa Civil Rights Act state gender identity is a protected class when it comes to discrimination.
“This is a big thing where we need to really have these town halls and decide what direction we want to take our state, and what are we not willing to tolerate in our classrooms, and what truly is a civil right,” Shipley said. “And mental illness should not be accommodated as a civil right.”
Shipley is one of a dozen GOP House members who introduced a bill this session to strip gender identity from the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
He also floated the idea of banning or restricting health care for trans children.
“This is a conversation we’re going to have to have in this state to really decide what is the best standards of practice and care and what do kids need to alleviate the dysphoria and form actual identities that can be healthy and happy for the rest of their lives,” Shipley said.
Republicans in the Senate have already introduced a bill to restrict medical health care for trans children.
Rep. Brooke Boden (R-Indianola) stripped all of the context from another anti-trans bill in the House to defend it from an audience member who condemned the bill and the Republicans who support it.
“I don’t want us being painted as people that don’t love and care about others. I absolutely do,” she said. “What I want to get back to on that bill is, if you take out all the words, you just say teachers can’t keep secrets from parents. That’s it.”
Boden said that bill just happened to have words about gender identity on it.
The bill would require schools to inform parents if their student requests different pronouns or a different name at school, effectively outing some LGBTQ students in non-supportive families or before they may be ready. It was widely panned in a subcommittee hearing as potentially putting trans and nonbinary children in danger if their parents don’t support their identities. It is now up for floor debate, though it hasn’t been scheduled.
In that vein, Republicans also talked about the books in school libraries after an audience member asked about school connections to the American Library Association.
Boden said as chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, they plan to have a meeting about school library books and their educational value on Monday evening.
“We are calling in some great moms that are in this room and we’re going to go through what this book oversight does and what educational value these books have,” she said. “We will then return a conversation with the librarians and the administrators to find out their portion of the conversation, because there’s a process in place and we need to understand it, and we need to make sure that our children aren’t being exposed to pornography.”
No schools in Iowa have pornography in their libraries.
Rep. Helena Hayes (R-New Sharon) said she wants to look at training for school librarians.
“There’s also a push to require that librarians be educated in a certain way. And my own sister is a librarian at a public school and she doesn’t even have a teacher endorsement,” she said. “I disagree with any legislation right now that’s being pushed that librarians have to have this special degree that is oftentimes the vehicle they use to indoctrinate.”
Critical Race Theory
Republicans also took the opportunity to propose further crackdowns on Iowa schools teaching critical race theory, despite that not happening and the state already having a bill banning divisive concepts.
“Because we said that, there are some school districts that are using that now to simply continue to teach critical race theory,” said Steven Holt (R-Denison). “That is un-American, that is Marxism. And there’s a difference between history and that garbage.”
Holt led the bill that banned divisive concepts and is leading another bill which would create a system to report teachers for supposedly teaching divisive concepts.
“If we’re teaching our young people that our country is evil and that our country is this racist thing that they’re teaching as part of this critical race theory why do we believe for a minute that these young people are going to be willing to stand up and defend our country when the crap hits the fan?” he said.
At the end, when giving their closing statements, Boden had this to say:
“And I’ll just remind you again, as Republicans, we do care. We love everybody as much as anyone else. We are here to listen. We represent all of the people once were elected, all of the people. You can call me and talk to me as long as you’re civil. And I will love to have a great conversation with you.”
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