Law & Legal
Iowa students protest proposed discriminatory LGBTQIA+ bill.

Iowa students protest proposed discriminatory LGBTQIA+ bill.

On Wednesday, students participated in a walkout to oppose anti-LGBTQIA+ bills being approved and introduced in Iowa by proudly carrying signs, donning pride flags, and marching from the Memorial Union to Parks Library.

Students in Iowa stood up from their desks and left their classes on Wednesday afternoon to oppose several anti-LGBTQIA+ bills being considered by the state legislature. This school walkout caused a great deal of awareness and annoyance throughout Iowa.

In a report, NBC News said students from 26 high schools and two colleges organized the protests.

The day of public protests was coordinated by IowaWTF, a group of high school students that opposes “discriminatory legislation,” and the Iowa Queer Student Alliance, a group for Queer high school and college students.

The Motive for the Rally

A representative of the Iowa QSA, Jemma Bullock, stated that the organization is conducting walkouts for two primary reasons: to educate individuals about the bills being debated in the state Assembly and to attract the legislators, sponsoring those bills’ attention.

Jemma Bullock of Ankeny High School, located just north of Des Moines, said, “We are trying to make it so that those in authority can’t ignore us. Because at the moment, there are people going to the Capitol and attending those public meetings about these bills — they have been teachers, psychiatric patients, medical professionals, students, parents, administrators, all kinds of individuals who come and say, ‘This is harmful.

This will have detrimental consequences. This will lead to bullying, depression, and anxiety, and our schools won’t be a secure place for the LGBTQIA+ community.’ They simply won’t heed, though.”

Since The Abortion Decision, Iowa Witnessed The Most Protests For Anti-LGBTQIA+ bills

Students from 21 districts, including Des Moines Public Schools, Ankeny Community School District, and Iowa City Community School District,  some of the state’s most extensive school systems, participated in the LGBTQIA+ walkouts.

According to Waverly Zhao, a senior at Johnston High School, just north of Des Moines and a co-founder of IowaWTF, students at Grinnell College and Iowa State University also lined up for the walkout.

The students chanted, “We say gay,” “love is love,” and other slogans as they marched through Iowa City’s streets, receiving encouragement from passing vehicles and onlookers. Finally, the marchers finished the last portion of their journey, taking a five-minute break in the Pedestrian Mall, and arrived at the Pentacrest around two o’clock.

Since more than a thousand people gathered to oppose the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision last year, the anti-LGBTQIA+ bill walkout was Iowa’s biggest protest.

Nearly a year ago, Zee Lauer assisted in planning a protest in favor of transgender rights at the Old Capitol. They use the words they/them and are nonbinary.

“That I am standing here on these stairs protesting is just absurd. Youngsters are killing themselves left and right, and (Iowa legislators) just don’t seem to care,” they said.

The Regulations That They Are Condemning

According to a local advocacy organization, One Iowa Action, Iowa lawmakers have proposed at least 29 bills this year for LGBTQIA+ people.

Bullock stated that she is most concerned about a collection of bills that would outlaw teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation, one of which would even prevent teaching about gender identity through the eighth grade.

Bullock also brought up a different bill that would forbid school staff from hiding a student’s gender identity from their parents if that gender identity differs from the student’s assigned sex at birth. 

In addition, a joint resolution put forth on Tuesday by eight House Republicans that would outlaw same-sex unions is also a concern for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies.

In at least 23 states, including Iowa, lawmakers have introduced legislation this year to limit gender-affirming care for minors, including hormone therapy, surgery, and puberty blockers.

Zhao claimed that since trans minors are already at a greater risk of developing suicidal thoughts, the ban on transition-related care could harm their mental health. She added that she worries that legislation aimed at schools may affect the emotional assistance; LGBTQIA+ students receive there, which they might not get at home.

She expressed concern that greater parental participation in such a contentious and sensitive matter, which affects many students personally, would undoubtedly be detrimental to the children.

According to NBC News, The American Civil Liberties Union and a different team of researchers monitoring the flow of legislation have counted over 300 bills targeting LGBTQIA+ people that state legislators from across the nation have proposed so far this year.

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