Every week it seems I receive a message or a phone call from someone in Iowa alerting me to the fact there is a biological boy using the girls’ bathroom in school.
And every week I tell them that, according to the law, this has to be allowed in public schools. Not that I agree with it, but because gender identity is a “protected class” according to the Iowa Civil Rights Code. And it has been since 2007.
So, the fact this is only now blowing up shows we’re a bit behind the curve.
Yet Republican House Rep. Dean Fisher has filed a bill the last couple of years to strip gender identity from the civil rights code.
And the last couple of years, the bill has not even been assigned a subcommittee hearing. This is especially alarming considering Republicans have controlled the Iowa House of Representatives for six years. Heck, Republicans have controlled the House, Senate and Terrace Hill.
Yet here we are. One of 22 states with sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the civil rights code. In the same company as California, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, pretty much the entire Northeast, Hawaii, etc.
Just two “red states” have these protections — Iowa and Utah.
The inclusion of gender identity in the state’s civil rights code has led to bathroom anarchy, topless biological female minors at public swimming pools and taxpayer-funded sex-change surgeries.
Now teachers are asking students for preferred pronouns while promising not to tell their parents about the preferred pronouns used. Schools are allowing biological boys to have female accommodations on overnight trips. Boys are showering in the girls’ locker room.
And it is all because Republicans have kept gender identity in the state’s civil rights code.
Every lawyer representing a city, county or school I’ve talked to or heard speak cites the same thing — gender identity being a protected class. Yet some Republican legislators say they believe it is an improper understanding of the law.
I’m skeptical that every lawyer for every city, school and county has the same improper understanding of the law.
I’m much more likely to believe this is a problem created by the Iowa legislature. It was the Iowa legislature that added gender identity to the civil rights code in 2007.
Now it is incumbent upon the legislature to get it out of there.
It is clear the intrusion of gender identity into the civil rights code has essentially eradicated protections intended for individuals based on sex — which has been in the civil rights code much longer.
This bill has died in the House Judiciary Committee in years past where Rep. Steve Holt serves as chair. If people want this bill to proceed in 2023, Holt has to be convinced to give the bill a subcommittee hearing.
This past legislative session, a House Republican told me that gender identity being in the civil rights code isn’t an issue for the people of their district. This individual will no longer hold a seat in the Iowa House after losing their primary in June.
And one of the major issues in that race, based on what voters from that district have told me, was gender identity being in the civil rights code.
I was told removing it from the civil rights code didn’t have the support of a majority of Republicans in the Iowa House, let alone the 40 Democrats.
It was interesting to watch Republicans rally behind Gov. Kim Reynolds in protecting women’s sports this past session. It’s clear they knew the issue polled well for them and that’s why they went forward with it.
Sometimes, though, elected officials should do things because it’s the right thing to do — regardless of what polling tells them.
Through the conversations I have had with Iowans across the state, it is clear conservative Iowans want gender identity removed from the civil rights code.
And based on the last few years, it is going to take some work. They have to contact House Republican leadership as well as Rep. Holt, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Holt’s email is: [email protected]
Speaker Pat Grassley’s email is: [email protected]
Majority Leader Matt Windschitl’s email is: [email protected]
Feel free to also contact Rep. Dean Fisher and let him know you support his efforts: [email protected]