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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa lawmakers advance bill that protects educators if pronouns, preferred name wrongly used

The bill would prohibit educators from being disciplined for not using a student’s preferred name or pronouns.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The Iowa State Capitol is seen in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.

A panel of Iowa House Lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that would prohibit disciplinary action against teachers for not using a student’s preferred name or pronouns.

House File 2139 would prohibit school districts and charter schools from taking disciplinary action against students, faculty, and staff who do not use another’s preferred name or pronouns. The bill also allows those who have been terminated because of these circumstances to be reinstated.

Both Republican lawmakers on the three-person panel signed onto the bill, and the Democrat Iowa Rep. Monica Kurth, D-Davenport, opposed the bill.

Kurth said she voted against the bill because of the conflict with Senate File 496 and its effects on LGBTQ+ youth. Provisions passed for SF 496 in 2023 require parents to register their students’ preferred names and pronouns.

Iowa educator Patty Alexander said she is in fear of disciplinary action because of the potential that she accidentally uses the wrong pronoun or preferred name for a student.

“Please pass this bill and protect our freedom of speech and our religious freedoms,” Alexander said.

Elliot Sutton, a nonbinary high school student, said this bill does not protect children, but instead harms them.

“If you had children’s best interests in mind, you would be trying to support all of them, not just one group that fits your box of what’s right or normal,” Sutton said. “Even in school, which is a place where they should not only be able to learn but be able to feel safe and grow into themselves, they will be attacked by people who should be supporting them.”

RELATED: Politics Notebook | Iowa Gov. Reynolds introduces bills to legally define men, women

Melissa Peterson, a lobbyist for the Iowa State Education Association, attended the hearing on behalf of the association, which is in opposition to this bill.

“The Iowa State Education Association teachers, whether they consider themselves to be teachers of faith or not, have a responsibility, a professional and personal responsibility, to treat every single student with respect and create a safe and comfortable learning environment to the best of their ability,” Peterson said.

Peterson also said the state education association is not aware of any school district punishing educators or students for using the wrong name or pronouns.

Nathan Arnold, a lobbyist with the Professional Educators of Iowa, was in support of the bill to help protect staff and faculty at Iowa school districts.

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About the Contributors
Natalie Miller, Politics Reporter
Natalie Miller is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her position as a Politics Reporter, Natalie was a News Reporter focusing on Higher Education.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.