Lawmakers Consider Bathroom Policies For Iowa Schools

Des Moines, Iowa — A House subcommittee has approved a bill that would let Iowa schools have policies requiring that students use the bathrooms or locker rooms designated for their biological sex. During a subcommittee hearing early Tuesday morning, Patty Alexander, a teacher from Urbandale, urged lawmakers to pass the bill.

Jill Bjorklund of Ankeny and her seven-year-old transgender daughter Lily urged lawmakers to defeat the bill.

Amber Williams told lawmakers she was a concerned mom who supports the bill.

Chris Patterson, the parent of a non-binary child, says her first grader was forced to adhere to the kind of policy in this bill.

Lobbyists representing schools warn districts will risk lawsuits and be forced to decide whether to adhere to federal policy on transgender students’ bathroom use or the proposed state law. Shellie Flockhart told lawmakers she was the mother of four and her teenage children are opposed to having kids of the opposite sex in their locker room.

Becky Taylor is executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, which works with 10,000 LGBTQ students. Taylor says the bill’s accommodation, letting transgender students use the restroom in the nurses office, does not meet the legal standard.

In 2021, a gender specific bathroom policy won initial approval from a subcommittees in the Iowa Senate, but Tuesday’s vote is the first time a House subcommittee has advanced a so-called bathroom bill.

The House bill, HF 482, states that elementary and secondary schools may make policy that requires individuals that use group restrooms do so by the gender that is specified on their Birth Certificate. It also dictates that it shall not be discriminatory for schools to institute such policies.

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