DES MOINES, Iowa – Last Thursday, the Iowa House of Representatives passed SF 482, a bill that requires public K-12 schools to designate and allow the use of multiple occupancy restrooms and changing rooms for persons of the same biological sex.
The 57-39 vote in the Iowa House mainly along partisan lines; however, five Republicans joined with Democrats opposing the bill—State Reps. Chad Ingles, R-Randalia, Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, Phil Thompson, R-Boone, and Hans Wilz, R-Ottumwa.
The Iowa Senate passed the bill by a partisan 33 to 16 vote the week before, with Republicans supporting the legislation and Democrats opposing it. The bill now heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.
Should the bill be signed into law, people at a school will be prohibited from entering single or multiple-occupancy restrooms or changing rooms that do not correspond with their biological sex. In addition, the bill provides that schools can arrange alternative facilities but only if the request to school officials comes from a student’s parent.
The bill provides reasonable accommodations that can be made, such as:
- Access to a single occupancy restroom.
- Access to a unisex single-occupancy restroom by only one student.
- Controlled use of faculty multiple occupancy restrooms or changing areas or single occupancy restrooms or changing rooms
The legislation states that it does not prohibit a school from adopting policies necessary to accommodate disabled persons or young children in need of physical assistance. It also does not prohibit custodial staff from entering such facilities if a member of the opposite biological sex does not occupy them. It also does not prevent entry to render medical assistance or to take shelter during a natural disaster, emergency, or threat to student safety.
The bill also allows any citizen to file a complaint regarding a violation of the bill with the Attorney General of Iowa if that citizen provides a written notice to the school and the school does not remedy the violation within three days of receiving the notice. The bill then requires the Attorney General to investigate the claim and take legal action if necessary.
The bill provides that such designations and prohibitions by public schools do not constitute unfair or discriminatory practices in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
Supporters of the bill state that such legislation is necessary to protect student privacy. Opponents state that the bill unfairly targets transgender students.
Read the bill below:SF482