Gov. Kim Reynolds signs bill prohibiting critical race theory in Iowa schools

The recently signed law applies to Iowa’s regent-governed institutions, including the University of Iowa.


Hannah Kinson

Gov. Kim Reynolds listens during a conference at the GuideLink Center in Iowa City on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The new crisis center is a collaborative project between the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and community partners, and focuses on providing mental health and substance use care. It will have a soft opening on Monday.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Tuesday that will prohibit critical race theory education in school curricula and in mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training.

The new law applies to Iowa’s governmental agencies and entities, school districts, and public postsecondary educational institutions.


Going into effect on July 1, the law (HF 802) blocks the promotion of “divisive concepts” in diversity training. Ten provisions of the new law include:

  • The idea that one race or sex is superior to another race or sex
  • The United States and Iowa are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist
  • An individual race or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive
  • Discrimination or adverse treatment of an individual because of their race or sex is prohibited
  • Members of one race should not attempt to treat others without respect based on race or sex
  • An individual’s morals aren’t determined by race or sex
  • That traits like “hard work ethic” are racist or sexist
  • Race or sex scapegoating is prohibited
  • Race or sex stereotyping is prohibited

The legislation defines “race or sex stereotyping” as describing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.

In a statement, Reynolds said, “Critical race theory is about labels and stereotypes, not education.”

Richard Delgado, a professor of law at the University of Alabama and author of the book “Critical Race Theory,” wrote that the theory is a “progressive legal movement that seeks to transform the relationship among race, racism, and power.”

The law also prevents the teaching of “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” in relation to an individual’s race or sex.

According to the law, public institutions “may continue training” for students and employees to foster a respectful workplace and learning environment, but public institutions should not include training such as the “divisive concepts” highlighted.

In February, the Iowa House proposed a bill that would bar funding from schools teaching the 1619 Project, a historical curriculum shaped from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.