House File 9 proposal concerning for LGBTQ students


Matthew Gardner, Staff Writer

During the first week of 2023, Iowa House Republicans released their first slate of legislation for the year, including a proposal of new requirements for schools on student gender identity.

The House File 9 Bill would prohibit school districts from providing any accommodation or support for a student’s change in gender identity without written consent from the child’s guardian.

This bill follows the influence of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the controversy over school policies like those in the Linn-Mar Community School District of supporting students’ gender identity transitions without parental notice. The district required employees and students to address the student by a new name and new pronouns and allow the student to use the restrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity.

And while supporters say that the bill will give power to parents, opponents believe it will cause harm to students. 

“It is detrimental to the lives of LGBTQ youth, a demographic that has the highest suicide rate in our country, which ties to the fact that they have homophobic and unsupportive parents and families, so to require those homophobic parents and families to provide written consent is by extension forcing those children to not only hide their identity but themselves,” said Finn Boyle, a sophomore. 

The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide and crisis prevention organization, said such measures add to the existing discrimination of LGBTQ youth, who already face higher health concerns and are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender or straight peers. When given access to spaces that affirm their gender identity, they report fewer suicide attempts, according to The Trevor Project.

The bill also prohibits school staff from giving advice or support to a student considering any gender-affirming procedure and information regarding a student’s gender identity. 

“It puts kids in danger because some people can react to those situations in unpredictable ways, and some teachers may be a better influence than people’s parents.” Said Finley Haberman, a sophomore at Bettendorf. “You hear many stories about people getting kicked out of the house when coming out. This bill outs students, which puts them in a very vulnerable position, and it truly is sad.”

The bill’s opponents also state that the legislation will negatively impact school life.

“Bettendorf has a steady LGBTQ population, many of which have probably not come out due to the climate and culture in Bettendorf, and this bill will further enforce the negative culture and stigma around gay people, making it harder for individuals to come out and normalize being gay, or normalize being transgender, or normalize being part of the community,” said Boyle. 

The House File Nine Bill will go up for a vote later this year.