UI organizations react to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

LGBTQ+ organizations at the UI say they are troubled after multiple anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in the state legislature by Iowa House of Representatives Republicans.


Rohan Abernathy-Wee

Student protestors cheer in support of speakers in front of the Old Capital, Mar. 1, 2023.

Natalie Miller, News Reporter

University of Iowa organizations are concerned for the LGBTQ+ community with the rise of anti-LGTBQ+ legislation that is making its way through the 2023 legislative session.

The Iowa House and Senate passed two pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation so far this week. Senate File 538, a bill that restricts access for gender-affirming care, is now heading for Gov. Kim Reynolds signature after passing in the Iowa Senate and House

The Iowa Senate also passed Senate File 482, which bans the usage of single or multi-occupancy restrooms that do not align with one’s biological sex.

Bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights of adults and children largely began being introduced following Florida’s passing of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill in April 2022.

Out of the 29 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, seven of them survived funnel week, which is one of the first major deadlines halfway through the session.

Previously, a small number of Iowa Republican House of Representative members introduced House File 508 which would virtually ban same-sex marriage. But the bill was killed in legislation.

Liam Conrad, a second-year student at the University of Iowa Law School, said he was not shocked to see that Iowa Republicans had proposed a same-sex marriage ban in the state. Conrad is co-president of the “Outlaws,” a group of LGBTQ+ students in the University of Iowa Law School.

“I don’t think I was super surprised. I think when you look at all the bills coming out of the legislature this year, it’s pretty on par with all the other ones,” Conrad said. “That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t disgusting.”

Conrad also expressed the effects these legislations can have on the UI and the state, saying it could be detrimental to bringing people to Iowa.

“I think it just gives off an unwelcoming atmosphere to the whole state. It just makes people feel unwelcomed and that they don’t belong,” he said.

Julie Alexander, a faculty advisor for GradPride+ , wrote in an email to the DI that the UI strives to be inclusive for all students. According to the UI Student Organization site, GradPride+ is an organization offering support to graduate and professional students of the LGBTQ+ community at the UI.

“Proposed legislation that ultimately would harm any of our student communities is of concern. For many of our LGBTQ+ students, the university is the only institution where they feel supported to thrive in their intersectional identities,” Alexander wrote.

Conrad said he would advise current UI students to contact state legislators in their home state or their home district to support the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

“I think it would be very beneficial for those people to get in contact with the representatives from their home state or their home district,” he said.

Alexander said despite the bills being proposed in Iowa, the university’s priority will always be the students.

“As always, regardless of whether the bill passes, our top concern is the health and well-being of our students, across all sexual orientations and gender identities. They are valid and deserve to feel safe,” she said.