Editorial | LGBTQ+ rights

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board on the impact of LGBTQ+ legislation in Iowa.


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.

DI Editorial Board

As the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage, Iowa used to be a progressive state for LGBTQ+ rights.

But recent legislative proposals and bills show Iowa is moving backward. During this year’s legislative session, several bills have sought to limit the freedom of members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially school-aged individuals.

In response to these recent bills, The Daily Iowan Editorial Board fully believes all Iowans should have the ability to freely express themselves regardless of sex, gender, and sexuality. We believe this legislative pattern is not only harmful to the people it targets but to the future of the state.

On March 22, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 538, an act that bans gender affirming care for anyone under the age of 18, into law. The bill passed along party lines, with 33 Republicans voting in favor and 16 Democrats against.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steven Holt, defended the purpose of the bills. “I believe that the medical efficacy of these treatments is not proven,” Holt said.

The state legislature also passed Senate File 335, which prohibits transgender students from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Users must use restrooms that align with their sex as defined by their birth certificate.

SF 335 also requires teachers to out transgender youth to their parents and prohibits engagement with social gender affirming practices without parental permission.

While some legislators argue the purpose of bills like SF 538 are meant to protect children, there is a clear pattern in the Iowa legislature of attempts to suppress the LGBTQ+ community.

“Trans youth are already at exponentially higher risk of self-harm, suicide, familial isolation, and bullying than their peers,” United Action for Youth Executive Director Talia Meidlinger told the DI. “[We] always will stand proudly and unapologetically behind, and  – when necessary — in front of trans youth.  Trans youth and their families and allies will always have a safe place here.”

The DI Editorial board believes Iowa legislators should work in support of LGBTQ+ communities because all individuals should feel accepted, no matter their identity. But the legislators should be concerned about how this legislation could impact the future of the state.

Iowa is not on a positive growth track. Between 2020 and 2050, Iowa’s population is only projected to grow by 6 percent.

It is expected that by 2030, individuals over the age of 60 will become the largest population group in Iowa. When the median age rises in any state, questions on if the 18-65 year old workforce can support the older, retired population cause economic worries.

In comparison, Minnesota’s population is projected to grow over 15.2 percent between 2020 and 2050.

Minnesota lawmakers have worked to continue protections for abortion patients, refugee and immigrant groups, and now patients seeking gender affirming care. Iowa should take cues on what keeps young people and their families in the state rather than alienating them to the point of choosing to leave for brighter pastures.

Iowa legislators should be concerned about the state’s future. Regressive legislation that targets members of the LGBTQ+ community not only threatens the health and livelihood of queer individuals but will also set the state to a regressive future.

The Editorial Board stands with LGBTQ+ community amid legislative attacks. We believe inclusive and welcoming legislation would provide positive longevity to the state.

 “Iowa nice” must apply to all individuals, regardless of identity

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.