Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa have filed a lawsuit to overturn an Iowa law that prohibits books with sexual LGBTQ content.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a nonprofit LGBTQ youth advocacy group, Iowa Safe Schools, and also challenges a section of the law that requires school officials to inform parents of their child’s pronouns.
The groups look to block elements of SF 496, which establishes a “parent’s or guardian’s right to make decisions affecting the parent’s or guardian’s child” and provides a means for “prohibiting instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation in school districts, charter schools, and innovation zone schools in kindergarten through grade six.”
Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Nathan Maxwell said, “Schools should be safe havens that protect all students—including LGBTQ+ students—so they can learn and thrive in an affirming environment. This law erases and silences LGBTQ+ students and their families from school classrooms, books, and history. It sends the message that LGBTQ+ kids are too shameful to be acknowledged and endangers not only their mental health, but also their physical safety and well-being. This law puts students at risk of bullying, violence, and even suicide. This unconstitutional law must be struck down.”
ACLU of Iowa Staff Attorney Thomas Story claimed that SF 496 is a “violation of public school students’ First Amendment right to speak, read, and learn freely.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) responded to the lawsuit in a press release, saying, “Protecting children from pornography and sexually explicit content shouldn’t be controversial. The real controversary is that it exists in elementary schools. Books with graphic depictions of sex acts have absolutely no place in our schools. If these books were movies, they’d be rated R. The media cannot even air or print excerpts from these books because the content is offensive and inappropriate, yet they promote the narrative that they’re good for kids.”