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Two Iowans say they have been denied the ability to attend GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Task Force’s (Iowa Safe Schools) 15th annual Iowa Governor’s Conference.

The event has drawn plenty of criticism in the past and Republican governors, both Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds, have refused to call for the event to change its name. Damian Thompson, GLBT Youth In Iowa School’s Task Force public policy director, worked for both Congressman David Young and for Gov. Reynolds.

GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Task Force has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. While anyone can register to attend the event, the group says that it has the right to refuse registration to anyone for any reason.

That’s an ironic — no, hypocritical — position for this group that receives taxpayer dollars to take. Nate Monson and Thompson both registered against a proposed Religious Freedom and Restoration Act in the Iowa legislature.

Tammy Kobza, who is affiliated with Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, registered for the event and paid. Within minutes she was contacted by GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Task Force staff.

“Tammy, thank you for your interest in the 15th Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth,” wrote Monson, the group’s executive director. “I have refunded your registration.”

Kobza, who was puzzled, asked why.

“For the safety of our students we reserve the right to decline registration of anyone,” Monson responded.

Kobza claimed Monson slandered her as being a threat to children and said she is no threat at all.

“The Eagle Forum is a known anti-LGBTQ organization,” Monson said.

Kobza clarified that she signed up as a private citizen, not under Eagle Forum. She asked for evidence as to how Eagle Forum has harmed anyone and noted she plans to abide by the rules of the conference and wants to listen and learn.

“I’m disheartened to be rejected,” Kobza said. “Can you please respond to these concerns?”

Laura Carlson was planning to attend the conference, but the date changed when the group moved it to a virtual conference.

Monson wrote to Carlson:

“I see you are with Concerned Women for America. I can appreciate the intent Tamara Scott, CW, The FAMiLY Leader and other far-right organizations have to try and harm children. It didn’t work out to attend in person so that’s why the refund and the nastiness. All makes sense.

“Leave us alone. Tell Tamara to leave us alone. Tell Bob to leave us alone. This is harassment and it is beyond creepy. We will take action if we must against those respective organizations and parties with law enforcement. We will always block individuals who try to harm children from our events.”

Carlson said she planned to attend, but the COVID-19 virus changed everyone’s lives and schedules.

“I am a caregiver helper for elderly and am not free the date they arbitrarily chose for online programming,” she told The Iowa Standard. “I’ve never met Nate, Mark or anyone from Iowa Safe Schools (GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Task Force). I was polite and planned to attend and learn. I want to understand what is going on in our schools.

“It is unfortunate that Iowa Safe Schools uses the Governor’s title and prohibits guests who paid full admission to attend based upon affiliation with a Christian organization like Concerned Women for America. The ‘inclusiveness’ is underwhelming. I cannot imagine what it’s like to be a child in a classroom trapped with belligerent, defiant, mean and intolerant people like the director, Nate. No wonder children are under ‘political correctness and fearful’ in the school system. I imagine the kids aren’t allowed to express a different viewpoint. I am banned for life as a Christian woman.”

The Iowa Standard reached out to Gov. Reynolds’ spokesman Pat Garrett for comment. We will update the story if we hear anything back.

We asked Garrett if Gov. Reynolds has any concerns with Christians being “banned” from the Iowa Governor’s Conference. We also asked if she monitors the events and presentations that take place at the Iowa Governor’s Conference.

The conference is supposed to be held online on May 11.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall