Simpson College Reacts to Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation


Simpsonian File Photo

A variety of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation are being passed and proposed through the Iowa House.

by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

With the Iowa House considering a variety of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, students and faculty are concerned about the implications.

As the grassroots LGBTQ+ rights organization One Iowa Action reports, there are two anti-LGBTQ+ bills already made into law, with ten more still alive after funnel week.

SF 538: gender transition procedures, including puberty blockers, hormone therapies and other related surgeries for Iowans under the age of 18, are now on to be banned. 

SF 482: transgender people are to only use locker rooms or restrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.

This legislation is part of a broader trend in Republican-controlled state governments.

“Largely, this is a play to the base of the Republican party,” said professor of political science Kedron Bardwell. “Which is incredibly conservative, traditional.”

In Iowa specifically, the situation has changed in the past few years as Republicans have consolidated power in the state.

“In the past, the legislature has been fairly divided,” Bardwell said. “Now the legislature is overwhelmingly Republican.” 

He adds that this shift allows the conservative wing of the party to pass legislation without needing to gain support from moderates.

Much of this legislation is targeted at K-12 education spaces, including a bill to force students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender at birth and forcibly outing students if staff learn that a student is transgender.

There are also bills targeting what occurs in the classroom, including a ban on nicknames that may force teachers to deadname transgender students and banning any discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-6.

“It’s a sphere where there are shared responsibilities,” Bardwell said, referring to state and local governance. “I would see this as the state wanting to take more control over what is happening.”

Governor Reynolds and the lawmakers behind the bills have defended them as being in the best interest of children, but many LGBTQ+ activists disagree.

“It’s completely stupid,” junior Robbie Wagner, who is the co-president of Simpson PRIDE said. “This is a complete violation of rights. It pains me.”

Wagner expressed great concern for the impact this legislation will have for transgender youth. 

A CDC study in 2017 found that transgender high school students were almost three times more likely to attempt suicide than cisgender students.

“This is targeting K-12, that makes me feel a lot worse,” Wagner said. “A whole government is telling [trans high schoolers] your identity is invalid’.”

The targeting of K-12 education has also raised concerns for the rights of LGBTQ+ teachers and parents.

“There are a fair number of educators who are queer,” Wagner said. “That [legislation] tells educators that they can’t express this part of themself.”

Sophomore and education major Anja Waugh expressed fears of hurting teachers’ ability to educate students.

“As someone who has a social media presence that is reflective of my queerness, it’s alarming to consider that my job could be threatened,” Waugh said.

Waugh was also worried about the impact this might have on LGBTQ+ youth’s ability to learn.

“Spaces where students aren’t welcome or don’t feel comfortable, aren’t spaces where they’ll be able to learn,” she said.

While only marginal legislation to target higher education has been introduced so far, there may be more in the future.

“Kim Reyonlds has seen the success of other Republican governments in states like Florida,” Bardwell said. “A lot of people in the higher-ed community in Iowa are worried that what’s happened in other states could happen here.”

He pointed to Florida’s restriction of student life and campus activities that are part of DEI efforts, adding that there is already movement in the state government to review such efforts at state colleges and universities.

For students who are concerned about these bills, Wagner said that PRIDE is working to create opportunities for Simpson students to speak out.

Wagner encourages all to attend and says the collected tips from the show will be donated to the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund.

The drag show will be on April 4 at 8:00 p.m., and the March to End the ‘Isms’ will take place on March 30.