Opt-Out bill passed in Iowa House

Renee Gould '22 criticizes the new Opt-Out bill that would require schools to notify parents of LGBTQ+ and gender identity subjects and would allow parents to keep their children from learning about them.

Renee Gould, Reporter, Book Critic

The Opt-Out bill, a bill passed in the Iowa House of Representatives on Monday the 17th, would allow parents to opt-out of their children being taught LGBTQ+ and gender identity units in health class. It would also force schools to notify parents of such units. 

To be blunt, there is no reason that this could be in any way justified. The only logical explanation is simple; the oppression of LGBTQ+ and nonbinary students. One argument is that the measure is much like the previous law, which allowed parents to opt their children out of human growth and development instruction. This is not true. The new bill openly allows for discrimination whereas the previous law only allowed for opt-outs on the fetal development portion of the curriculum. Of course, this is often closely related to LGBTQ+ and gender identity subjects, but it still allows for instruction over LGBTQ+ and gender identity.

Rep. Sandy Salmon, one of the bill co-sponsors, claims the bill would be for parents who have views on sexual orientation and gender identity other than what the school says. Put simply, this means that Salmon is saying that discrimination against LGBTQ+ and nonbinary students is completely fine. This is because the bill allows students to learn nothing except what their parents teach them over these subjects. Not to go against parents, but they often aren’t neutrally explaining these subjects, and in many cases will only teach their children that being LGBTQ+ or nonbinary is wrong. The bill would mean that the children learning from their parents would never learn otherwise. Not only that, but the language of the bill would require school districts to update its education on LGBTQ+ and gender identity to the satisfaction of “any agency or organization” that requests it. This means that discriminatory parents could change LGBTQ+ and gender identity education for all students, not just their children.

To say that there’s no parent input right now, I think, is ridiculous. I just retired from teaching two years ago. I can tell you, parent input is always part of the process of everything that we do.”

The language is vague enough that any topics on LGBTQ+ and gender identity might have to be approved by parents, which would suppress organic discussions in classes. For example, the bill means that parents would have to approve of talking about Pete Buttigieg, a political figure, purely because of his sexuality. Supporters of the bill have attempted to say that parents are not allowed to give input about classes, which is completely false.

Overall, this bill is simply egregious. It openly allows for discrimination and attempts to hide behind arguments that make no sense. Its language is far too vague and would harm the learning environment. As well, it prompts the feeling that LGBTQ+ and nonbinary students are ‘different’, ‘other’, or ‘wrong’, which is not only untrue it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking because America finally has its first openly gay presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, and there are many other openly LGBTQ+ or nonbinary icons, not as many as there could be, but they’re still there. And yet, our laws still openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ and nonbinary members of society.