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Week 9 in the Iowa House saw passage of highly consequential legislation for the state of Iowa. Many of these initiatives were about protecting our young children. I will highlight our efforts in this edition of Freedom Watch.

Senate File 75 – Rural Emergency Hospitals

  • Establishes licensure in Iowa for Rural Emergency Hospitals.
  • This was a priority bill for the Republican caucus from Day 1 of the 2023 Legislative Session.
  • A rural emergency hospital is a health care facility that maintains a 24-hour emergency room, but does not include acute inpatient care.
  • Establishing licensure in Iowa for this kind of health care facility allows these facilities to be more successful by receiving reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid at a higher rate.

HF 135 – Student Right to Know

  • This legislation is aimed at providing more transparency for students at the state’s Regent Universities.
  • This bipartisan initiative requires the Board of Regents to publish a report that includes information on income and debt calculations for students, to allow them to make an informed choice as to the career path they choose. I was excited to floor-manage this legislation. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

House File 623 – Prohibition on Gender Procedures on Children

  • This legislation prohibits transgender surgeries and harmful hormonal therapy from being used on Iowa children.
  • Two hospital systems in Iowa perform these therapies or surgeries on children. Unity Point provides hormone therapy and puberty blockers, and UIHC provides hormone therapy, puberty blockers as well as top surgery to children.
  • Importantly, there is very limited data available on the long-term effects of these types of treatment. The few studies that have tracked long-term effects do not support the idea that this treatment lowers the rate of suicide in transgender individuals. On the contrary, the only thing that is clear is that suicide is reduced when children are allowed to go through puberty, when 80-95% will return to identifying with the gender of their biology. Otherwise, studies show that those who have had these treatments are 7 to 20 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • Children are just too young to make these permanent, life-changing decisions.
  • Under current practice, these children are being allowed, or even encouraged, to make these permanent decisions, with life altering consequences such as sterilization, before they have been given the opportunity to grow up and learn more about themselves.
  • This law will help give Iowa children the time to mature and grow into themselves before making such a life-altering decision. I floor-managed this legislation to passage with great concern for the safety of our children. This bill is headed to the Governor’s desk.

House File 348 – Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Curriculum

  • This legislation will prohibit any classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-6th grade.
  • We send our kids to school to learn subjects such as reading, writing, math and science. This bill will allow teachers to use their time on those topics and leave discussions on social issues to parents.
  • Teachers should teach and parents should parent.
  • Second graders in Ames were told they could choose to be a boy, girl, both, neither or something else. This is unacceptable This legislation is not intended to stop all discussion, but rather to prohibit instruction, curriculum or promotion of these topics in school.
  • Students with same-sex parents or teachers in a same-sex marriage would not be limited from talking about those relationships.

HF 597 – Removing Sexually Explicit Materials from Schools

  • This legislation is intended to restrict sexually explicit material in Iowa schools.
  • This bill requires that all books in school libraries must be age appropriate and expands the definition of age appropriate in code to include what is NOT age appropriate.
  • Age appropriate does not include any material with graphic descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.
  • I apologize for the graphic nature of this discussion, but because of the very graphic books that have been found in Iowa schools, I want to be clear about what we’re talking about. A sex act in this legislation is defined as:
    • “penetration of the penis into the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and genitalia or by contact between the genitalia of one person and the genitalia or anus of another person; contact between the finger or hand of one person and the genitalia or anus of another person.” There are additional specifics but I believe the point is made.
  • I still cannot believe that this is legislation we needed to pass, but it was. Unfortunately, books that contain graphic images and passages of exactly the types of sexual acts prohibited in this legislation have been found in Iowa schools.
  • If you are skeptical that this material could possibly be in Iowa schools, please take the time to view the passages and images from these three examples using your search engine for these titles:
    • Let’s Talk About It contains sexually explicit illustrations with instructions, tips and suggestions on how to perform various sex acts along with masturbation.  The book also suggests safe ways to consume porn.
    • Gender Queer contains graphic illustrations of oral sex.
    • Push contains detailed and disturbing instances of incest and sexual molestation.

Iowa children, under current practice, could be subjected to untested and unproven gender reassignment procedures and therapies that result in permanent physical changes, lifetime mental conflict, and increased risk of suicide. In some Iowa schools, which should be places of wholesome learning, our children are being exposed to explicit, disgusting materials for which there is no justification. Additionally, some educators have chosen to use our places of learning for indoctrination centers, without accountability. This week, Iowa House Republicans responded decisively on these issues, and the message is clear – enough is enough. More must be done, so stay tuned.

Author: Steven Holt


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