Guest Post: Despite New Iowa Laws, We Support LGBTQ Students In Sioux City

Sioux City School Board member Bernie Scolaro at the Iowa Capitol in 2023. Courtesy Bernie Scolaro

An Open Letter to Governor Kim Reynolds:

You recently signed legislation SF 496, which bans books from schools, limits education on gender identity and sexual orientation, and wants staff to “out” students whose preferred pronoun is different than their biological sex.

You proudly signed this bill—privately. This had never been an Iowa concern, but a national agenda that you wanted to be a part of—so you threw it into your to-do list.

As a school board member, I sat on the graduation stage this weekend. As valedictorian Patrick Baughman of West High concluded his speech, he spoke loudly and passionately for trans rights and not banning books.

Unlike yourself, he did this on a public stage, not privately, because he knew what was important to him and many other students.

He wasn’t using his voice to gain political points or favor with national politicians, but as a need to speak for the rights of ALL students—even the marginalized who have been targeted this year in one of the most hateful legislative sessions that I have ever witnessed.

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As a former counselor at this high school and as a current school board member, I know that real education is processing and guiding students to find their best selves, become independent thinkers, and use their voice to stand up for themselves and others. We must care about each other. Somehow, this has been lost by our legislators in Des Moines.

I am proud that we, the Sioux City Community School District School Board, has unanimously passed a resolution affirming our LGBTQ+ students.

Governor, you commented that, “no matter what is thrown my way, I will always stand with parents!” Sounds great, right? Do you really not realize that public educators also stand with parents?

Government overreach and micromanaging the educational system that parents have entrusted their children to is not necessarily respecting parents’ decisions either. Placing their students in your designated “bathrooms” or taking away their gender-affirming medical care is not respecting parents.

Parents love their children. They see their child’s needs, their pain, their fear of being bullied or singled out. Are you not willing to stand for all parents?

Educators don’t indoctrinate students.  They help them to find their best selves, become independent thinkers, and when given an opportunity—such as giving a speech at graduation—use their voice to stand up for themselves and others.

Legislators could learn from our students. Legislators could learn from Patrick Baughman.


Bernie Scolaro
Sioux City Community School District School Board Director

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