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Iowa bans LGBTQ classroom discussions, removes HIV/HPV info

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a sweeping anti-LGBTQ education bill Friday, dramatically restricting what students are allowed to learn in schools across the state.

Senate File 496 — which passed the Republican-majority legislature last month despite fierce opposition from Democrats — prohibits the “instruction of any kind relating to gender identity or sexual activity to students in grades K-6,” forces schools to out transgender kids to their families, and bans books with any sexual content from school libraries.

The bill also removes instruction regarding HIV and HPV from curriculum, including information about the HPV vaccine, despite the fact that the CDC recommends the vaccine for children as young as 9.

SF 496 was one of seven bills focused on education signed by the governor Friday — which Reynolds says will empower teachers “to prepare our kids for the future.”

However, LGBTQ rights advocates said the legislation will only “harm an already vulnerable group of children” — while benefitting no one.

“This is a dark day for Iowa youth, LGBTQ or otherwise,” One Iowa Action, a nonprofit that works to empower and improve the lives of the state’s LGBTQ community, said in a statement Friday afternoon.

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The group added that Reynolds “cowardly” signed SF 496 into law “behind closed doors.”

“She has made it clear that she is willing to run on an anti-LGBTQ platform to win votes but is too afraid to give the people she works for the time of day,” One Iowa said.

Iowa became the latest state in the nation to enact an anti-LGBTQ education bill, which first made national headlines after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill in March 2022.

According to the nonprofit Movement Advancement Project, a think tank focused on LGBTQ policies and legislation, there are nine other states with laws outright censoring discussion of LGBTQ people or issues in schools, even with parental consent. This year alone, lawmakers in at least 20 states have introduced similar bans.

Iowa’s bill is just the latest example of Republican lawmakers in conservative states targeting LGBTQ rights — particularly the rights of transgender youth — to appeal to socially conservative voters.

More than 520 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country this year alone — an all-time record — according to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign.

With News Wire Services

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