Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs series of education laws, law lowering age to work

Signing seven in total, the biggest bills include the banning of LGBT topics from the classroom, banning books containing depicting or describing sexual acts, and a law lowering the age at which teens can work.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a watch party for Iowa Republicans on Election Day at the Hilton Downtown in Des Moines on Nov. 8, 2022.

Alejandro Rojas, Summer Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a slew of education bills that will make broad changes to the education system in the state.

The biggest bill, Senate File 496, is wide-ranging in scope and gives parents and guardians the ability to transfer their children to another school within the same district in certain circumstances. It also prohibits teaching gender identity and sexual orientation before seventh grade and would require schools to alert parents if their child requests to use new pronouns.

The bill will also ban books describing or depicting sex acts from school libraries.

Its signing comes after a divided vote in April in which the Iowa House passed it 55-42.

Senate File 391 includes changes to the coursework of students, such as decreasing the number of units needed in world language and fine arts to graduate from high school. For world languages, the amount will be lowered to two units rather than four, and two units rather than three for fine arts.

The bill would also create more exemptions from physical education, on the condition that a student participates in a school-sponsored activity that provides as much physical activity as a gym class.

House File 430 would affect the Board of Educational, the board that creates and regulates the standards for teachers in the state. Under this file, it would add four members to the 13-person board who have never held a practitioner’s license but have shown an interest in education. This includes a requirement that two of those members be parents of currently enrolled students.

Another bill signed was House File 135, which would require the state Board of Regents to publish an annual report about the average income and student loan debt of university graduates.

Reynolds released a statement Friday, highlighting the changes the bills would bring.

“This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future,” Reynolds said. “Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved — parents, educators, our children — deserves an environment where they can thrive.”

Reynolds also signed another law Friday that lowers the age to work to 14, also allowing them to work longer hours. The law, Senate File 542, allows 16 and 17-year-olds to serve alcohol in a restaurant with their parent’s permission.