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If Iowa Safe Schools has its way, the Hawkeye State will ban conversion therapy in 2020. The group, which flew the transgender pride flag at the Capitol in November (against Capitol grounds rules), has been more vocal in the last month about banning conversion therapy in Iowa.

They are in the process of collecting signatures in an effort to tell Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa legislators to “protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.”

Iowa Safe Schools calls conversion therapy a “form of psychological abuse intended to ‘cure’ the recipient of their same-sex sexual orientation and transgender identities.”

Less than two weeks ago the group hosted a fundraiser called “Sweet Equality” in Des Moines. The fundraiser’s premise was to help the campaign to end conversion therapy in Iowa.

Two Republican legislators spoke at the event. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) and Sen. Chris Cournoyer (R-LeClaire) reportedly expressed their public support for banning conversion therapy.

The Iowa Standard reached out to both Republicans.

“My involvement with Iowa Safe Schools began in 2015 when I chaired the Government Oversight committee,” Kaufmann said. “I ordered an investigation into the allegations surrounding the Governor’s Conference on bullying. I assigned the investigation to Rep. Greg Heartsill and myself. What we found was very disturbing. Since 2015, I have not been made aware of any further complaints.”

Kaufmann said he is a rare breed in eastern Iowa. He’s the only elected Republican in Johnson County.

“I am even more rare from the perspective of being a proud conservative from Johnson County,” he said. “My voting record speaks for itself with votes protecting life, religious liberty, our Second Amendment rights and fighting sanctuary cities. I meet with any and all groups I represent to hear them out.”

Kaufmann said he has one of the largest LGBTQ groups in the state in Johnson County.

“We don’t agree on a lot of policy,” he said. “One area I do believe we agree on is banning conversion therapy. I was asked to speak at an Iowa Safe Schools event, and did so.”

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann talks at the Iowa Safe Schools fundraiser to ban conversion therapy in Iowa. Photo from Iowa Safe Schools Facebook page

Kaufmann said Utah recently banned conversion therapy and did so with the support of the Mormon church.

“This is life and death,” he said. “The ban in Utah does not prohibit church leaders and members who are therapists from providing spiritual counseling to families. I would oppose efforts to ban that in Iowa.”

Kaufmann said he does support provisions to prohibit painful treatments like electroshock therapy.

“I find it reprehensible and disturbing that it is still technically not illegal in Iowa to administer electroshock therapy and other painful methods to a minor child,” Kaufmann said.

Our original questions for the legislators were:

Do you support efforts in Iowa to ban conversion therapy?

Iowa Safe Schools has an interesting past (2015 conference, flying transgender flag at Capitol, etc.), can you discuss your relationship with this advocacy group?

The Iowa GOP platform states, “We encourage the repeal of any laws allowing any marriage that is not between one natural man and one natural woman.” Do you agree with that plank?

It also states, “we believe that traditional, two-parent (one male and one female), marriage based on families are the foundation to a stable, enduring, and healthy civilization. Public policy must always be pro-family in nature, encouraging marital and family commitment and supportive of the parental rights and responsibilities.” How does a potential conversion therapy ban uphold this plank?

How do you personally define a “conversion therapy ban?”

Sen. Cournoyer said she would respond soon. We will publish her response when we receive it.

State Sen. Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines) also attended the event.

“I was pleased to see Republicans State Representative Bobby Kaufmann and Senator Chris Cournoyer there and publicly stating their support for the conversion therapy ban,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

The Iowa Standard is a free online news source so we can reach as many people as possible. But we need to raise money! We are asking our readers to help support us as a news alternative entering 2020. If you could, please consider showing a sign of support to The Iowa Standard by making a contribution here.  Or, you can use Venmo and make a contribution to @Iowa-Standard-2018. 

You could also send a check to:
PO Box 112
Sioux Center, IA 51250

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall