By O. Kay Henderson (Radio Iowa)
The Iowa House has passed a bill to ban instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms. School programs, tests or surveys on those topics would be barred for students in those grades as well.
Representative Skyler Wheeler of Hull is among the 62 House Republicans who voted for the bill. “Parents should be able to send their children to school and trust they are being educated, not indoctrinated,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said bill “protects the innocence” of Iowa children. “Children go to school to learn how to read, to write, to do math and the history of our great nation,” Wheeler said. “They do not go to school to learn about woke radical gender ideology.”
Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City who’s a retired public school teacher, responded. “We are not indoctrinating kids in our public schools, there’s no woke agenda and academics are an integral part with everything we do with the child’s education,” Steckman said.
All House Democrats and one Republican voted against the bill. Representative Heather Matson, a Democrat from Ankeny, said the policy will prevent teachers from addressing bullying of some students. “When you end conversation, you create stigma and when you create stigma, you create an unsafe environment,” Matson said.
Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds proposed banning instruction about sexual activity and gender identity in early elementary grades. A bill on this topic and other school policies is pending in the Senate.