Iowa City middle schoolers protest bathroom bill

Following the transgender bathroom bill being signed into law on Thursday, Hadley Fruin decided they wanted to protest the law. Alongside their classmates and with their parent’s support, Fruin and 10 other sixth graders stood on the Pentacrest Sunday to protest the law.


Matt Sindt

Student protesters from the Iowa City Community School District hold signs protesting the bathroom bill on the Pentacrest in Downtown Iowa City on Sunday, March 26, 2023.

Emily Delgado, Politics Reporter

Iowa City middle schoolers took to the Pentacrest Sunday to protest the passage of a recent law that restricts students from using public school restrooms that does not align with their gender identity at birth.

Bearing the wind and light rain, eleven Iowa City school students and four parents protested the law signing of Senate File 482, known as the bathroom bill. The bill was signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 23 after much debate in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature.

The students held up posters saying, “trans rights matter” and were received honks and cheers in support from bystanders.

Lila MacInnis, a sixth-grade student in Iowa City, who attended the protest with her mother Margaret MacInnis, knew she wanted to join student organizer Hadley Fruin’s efforts to be heard.

“People should never be uncomfortable to go to the bathroom,” MacInnis said.

Margaret MacInnis said her daughter was also very upset by the changing of the laws and wanted to do something about it.

“It great that she wants to be here speaking out,” Margaret MacInnis said.

Fruin said when they heard the news that the bill was signed on Wednesday, they immediately knew they had to do something.

“I came to school on Friday, and I told both the sixth-grade classes about [the protest] and I said, ‘Everyone is welcome to come: friends, enemies, and frenemies. You’re all welcome. Because the more people the better, because we want to make a difference,’” Fruin said.

Fruin, who is a transgender person, said they understand the fear transgender people in the state people are feeling.

“I just feel like this isn’t right when there’s no point to this,” Fruin said. “There’s nothing good coming from it.”

Lila joined the protest because she thinks the law is unfair.

“Everyone deserves rights and it’s very unfair for a lot of people at our school and in Iowa,” Lila said.

Fruin said they want the government officials who supported this bill to know they will not give up fighting and standing up for their beliefs.

“I want them to hear that we have voices and you adults aren’t taking charge,” Fruin said. “So we’re going to, because we’re not going to stand for this.”

Lila and Fruin both said they understand why some classmates who may support them did not come out to protest.

“There are so many people out there that do support you and are working to help you and if you’re scared of coming out, there’s plenty of people who are here for you and who will always support you,” Lila said.

The group of protestors was among a number of protests that have occurred across the state in March since the introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the Iowa Legislature.

“We have beliefs, and everyone has rights. We were promised rights in this country. We are promised rights. So we’re not going to stop until we have those rights,” Fruin said. “Yeah, we deserve everything that everyone else gets. Did we do anything? We are just kids.”