DES MOINES, Iowa – State Senator Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, introduced two bills last week designed to counter policies he says violate student and staff privacy and erodes parental rights.
The first bill, SF 2024, prohibits instruction in public and nonpublic schools related to gender identity for kindergarteners. It also requires parental consent before schools can use a curriculum addressing gender identity for students in first through sixth grade.
The second bill, SF 2025, prohibits people from using a single-occupancy or multiple-occupancy toilet facility in public and nonpublic schools that do not match their biological sex.
The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit. Some school districts have applied Iowa’s law to student access to multiple-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms, and sports based on their gender identity. However, other school districts have attempted to compromise and made single-occupancy facilities available instead. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance in 2016 that states schools must allow students and staff to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, not their biological sex. However, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance.
President Biden issued an executive order guaranteeing educational environments free from discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The U.S. Department of Education later issued an interpretation of the Supreme Court Bostock’s ruling that found sexual orientation and gender identity were included in prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace to Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in education settings.
Carlin told The Iowa Torch that his bill was prompted in part by a friend who, when picking up her four-year-old son from a school in the Sioux City School District, saw a teacher’s aide who was a biological man dressed as a woman.
“I don’t believe that the parents were notified about that and I think they have a right as parents to know about things like that because when somebody is going to spend seven or eight hours a day with your child, you would want to know that,” he explained.
While his bill does not relate to how a school staff member is dressed, and Carlin could not say whether that school in Sioux City taught students about gender identity, he stressed that some schools in Iowa have teachers that teach children about gender identity.
“Confusing children with issues related to gender identity in their early formative years is not something that public schools should be engaging in,” Carlin stated.
He said his bill addressing restrooms and locker rooms is primarily out of concern for the privacy rights of women and girls, pointing to a situation in a Virginia high school where a teenage girl was raped in a women’s restroom by a teenage boy who allegedly was “wearing a skirt.”
Both bills were introduced into the Senate Education Committee but have not been assigned a subcommittee yet.