The Governor recently signed Senate File 482 into law. I floor-managed this legislation to passage in the House out of concern for student safety and privacy. The bill addresses student privacy in bathrooms, changing rooms, and on school trips. In this edition of Freedom Watch, I will provide a non-legalistic, simple explanation of this legislation, in response to questions I have seen and inaccurate information being advanced. For more legal terminology, please visit the link at the bottom of this email.
Question: What basic information should I know about Senate File 482?
Answer: Simply put, the bill requires biological girls to use the girl’s bathroom or changing facility and biological boys to use the boy’s bathroom or changing facility in school. On school trips, hotel rooms must be assigned based on biology.
Question: How is it determined who is a boy and who is a girl?
Answer: The law clears up any confusion or debate; the child’s official birth certificate determines if the child is a boy or girl, which is based on biology. It’s a simple and uniform way to ensure every student is treated the same.
Question: What if a student wants more privacy and doesn’t want to use their designated bathroom?
Answer: Parents can request accommodation for their student through the school. School officials must offer reasonable options for alternative facilities. This can include a single occupancy bathroom or changing room, but the school cannot allow the student to use a bathroom that is designated for the opposite sex if a student of the opposite sex is present or could be present.
Question: What do schools have to do to comply with the law?
Answer: Schools need to be sure their bathrooms and changing rooms are designated for either boys or girls. A single occupancy bathroom or changing room can be designated for anyone as long as only one person occupies the room at a time. Schools are not required to close bathrooms or change the construction of their facilities; they must simply designate bathroom and changing facility use based on biology on the child’s birth certificate. The biological standard for facility use has been in force in our nation since 1887 and has only recently come into question.
Question: What if I believe a school is not following the law?
Answer: If you believe a school is not following the law it is easy to address the issue. First, provide written notice to the school describing the violation. If the school does not address the issue within three days, you can file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General will investigate and take appropriate action.
This legislation is about protecting the privacy and safety of our children in school and on school field trips. It keeps politics out of bathrooms and changing facilities and allows our students to focus on learning without loss of privacy and safety resulting from ideology not rooted in science.