Dear Kim, Trans Kids Are Still Kids.


Ali Parkhurst

Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, proposes a bill that puts the lives of trans youth in danger. Proposed bill 1145 is “an act relating to children and students, including establishing a parent’s or guardian’s right to make decisions affecting the parent’s or guardian’s child,” according to the bill.

Ali Parkhurst, Reporter

In the twenty-first century, the LGBTQ+ community has become less of a target. Though they may face ‘less’ discrimination than they did decades ago, the fight for equality still persists. In high school, we are told that school is a safe place, but as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proposes a new bill, transgender students could be put at risk.

Introduced Thursday Feb. 9, the Iowa Study Senate Bill 1145  prohibits specific conversations around gender identity and sexual activity, requires parental permission to read any book that has been successfully challenged in any school in Iowa, requires teachers to share curriculum materials online and requires schools to report to parents if they believe a student is transgender. 

The bill bans topics in school that cover sexual activity and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. This bill would also ban teaching about HPV and AIDS to students in seventh through twelfth grade. 

The ban on these topics will put not only queer children, but all children at risk. Students deserve to learn about the risks they will encounter in their lives. AIDS, HPV and gender identity are big and real topics in all lives, not just the lives of LGBTQ+ students. Prohibiting students from learning about sexually transmitted diseases will not do what Reynolds thinks it will. 

As Reynolds proposes this bill, she is directly targeting queer students and putting them in increased danger. The passing of this bill will lead to and inevitably add to the horrifying suicide rates we are already seeing within queer youth.

Alongside a mandatory change in the school’s health curriculum, names that are different from the birth name of a student will not be used within schools unless consent is given by the student’s guardian. Schools will also be required to notify parents if a student “has expressed a gender identity that is different than the biological sex listed on the minor child’s official birth certificate.” However, if a district believes that informing the parents of their child’s gender identity puts the child at risk, they are required to then report the case to the Department of Human Services. Alongside these changes in educational environments, parents are also required to give permission for surveys that ask students about their emotional, mental or physical health.

Senior Evelyn (Ev) Wilson, an openly transgender male at West High, says “Trans kids are scared. This bill will only increase transphobia and put us in danger.” Wilson notes that trans people, especially women are targeted and harassed everywhere, on a daily basis and he fears that this bill will enlist a fear in trans children to be themselves. 

According to The Trevor Project, in 2022, 1 in 5 trans kids attempted suicide and 45% of LGBTQ+ youth considered suicide. “The new bill Kim Reynolds has proposed will result in LGBT+ suicide rates skyrocketing,” Wilson says.

Social Studies teacher at West High, Annalee Hollingsworth, shares how she believes this view will impact teachers and students all across Iowa. As the bill requires teachers to share their curriculum months in advanced, Hollingsworth believes this is inevitability going to be too much work for teachers and decrease student interest. “This legislation puts a chilling effect on the ability of teachers to provide engaging instruction, it will lead to accelerated teacher burnout due to the increased workload, and will ultimately contribute to the teacher shortage,” she says.

Hollingsworth also believes that the passing of this bill is harmful to students across the state. She mentions a statics from the Trevor Project that states that an LGBTQ+ student attempts suicide once every 45 seconds. Hollingsworth beleives in the privacy of all students, especially when it comes to the fear of coming out to family, “I have had conversations with my family about my responsibility to protect these children if there is ever a dangerous situation at school, and I see this issue in the same way.”

“It is my responsibility to keep the students in my classroom safe. Respecting what they want to be called, no matter the reason, is a foundational part of their feeling safe,” Hollingsworth says, she says there is a connection between a student feeling safe and comfortable in the classroom and their academic success.

Reynolds’ new bill is not the first time trans youth has been targeted in America. According to The Trevor Project, 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth said that they have worried about transgender people being denied access to gender-affirming medical care due to state or local laws. Alongside this, 91% of transgender and nonbinary youth said that they have worried about transgender people being denied access to the bathroom due to state or local laws. 83% of transgender and nonbinary youth said that they have worried about transgender people being denied the ability to play sports due to state or local laws.

Forcing teachers to ‘out’ students undermines student achievement because if a kid is sitting in my geography class more worried that one of their friends might accidentally call them their preferred name in front of me, and that I’m then going to have to tell their parents that, how can they focus on learning that Africa is a continent, not a country?

— Annalee Hollingsworth

In her blog on Bleeding Heartland, a community blog about Iowa politics, Aime Wichtendahl, writes about being a member of the Hiawatha City Council and the first openly trans woman elected to government in Iowa. On Feb. 9 she wrote “The legislators who write these bills know these statistics, but they don’t care. They are so terrified that their children might be queer they are willing to burn down the entire public school system.”

Wichtendahl brings fourth good points, she states how the elements of these bills are targeting LGBTQ+ students. When we are in school, we are said that we are in a safe place, for some students, school is the only safe place they have. When this safe place is threatened many students are faced with no place to turn for comfort and reliability.

As more and more bills are being proposed and passed all across the country, we feel as if we are erasing the progress we had thought we made when it came to anti-discrimination. Students lives are being put at risk when all they are trying to do is exist. As Governor Reynolds proposes bills like these, she is allowing for the discrimination to enter our classrooms.

The Trevor Project has a variety of free crisis hotlines and counseling available for LGBTQ+ youth all over the world. If you are in need of any help or assistance, please reach out.