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September 18, 2023

SF 496 causes frustration among BHS students

In May 2023, Governor Reynolds signed several education bills into law. Perhaps the most controversial was SF 496, otherwise known as the Parental Rights Bill.

Weeks before classrooms across Iowa opened in 2023, some Iowa schools were asking parents’ permission to use a child’s nickname in class. Parents were sent permission slips to authorize the school to use nicknames – even simple ones like “Joe” for Joseph or ‘Kim’ for Kimberly. 

The reason? A recently passed law, Senate File 496 (SF 496), prohibits teachers from using “a name or pronoun” different from those listed in the school records without parental permission. Schools are taking extra precautions to be safe because of the law’s vague wording – even though Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill say it was not meant for nicknames.

The laws were intended to require teachers to inform parents if students wished to be called an alternative name or addressed by an alternative gender other than what is stated on their official records.

In terms of small things you can do, you can respect your friend’s preferred pronouns and gender. If you want to challenge this bill, you can join protests and write to the state senate.”

— Stephanie Elias

For many students in the LGBTQ+ community with unsupportive home lives, school is their only haven where they can be themselves. Junior Aila Koivisto recognizes the subjugation presented and what this bill takes away from students. 

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“They (students) have no haven, and the law forces them to live under their dead name unless their parents consent to using their chosen name,” said Koivisto. 

In addition, with parental involvement, people talk about what the parents want: to keep their children safe in school. Junior Stephanie Elias says it’s forcing someone to come out to their parents. 

“If anything, it’s endangering the LGBTQ+ community more,” said Elias. “I don’t think the objective was to ‘de-trans’ people because friends will still call them by their preferred name. But I think it’s kicking a group already down just because you can.”

Student Council Vice President and Senior Julisia Vallejo have educated themselves and stated that the Constitution says there is no point in making a law unless it is for the people’s good. 

“There comes a point when it is up to people in their home lives because they are not born a homophobic or racist but are taught it. So, if people are raised on hatred, they will spread it when they grow up and bottle up that ignorance by refusing to educate themselves,” said Vallejo.

“There is no other reason for making this law except to let your parents know about your real identity so that you can go from home to a somewhat safe place, but now to a highly unsafe space.” 

What frustrates students towards SF 496 is feeling helpless. However, Elias advises that students who feel frustrated can be  proactive in their community. 

“In terms of small things you can do, you can respect your friend’s preferred pronouns and gender. If you want to challenge this bill, you can join protests and write to the state senate.”


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About the Contributor
Chaz Nomura
Chaz Nomura, Staff Writer/Host of "Unleashed"
Chaz is a senior, and this is Chaz's second year as a staff writer for The Growl. Chaz is also the host of the podcast "Unleashed." He is also involved in French Club, Key Club, show choir, and Fine Arts productions. Chaz's favorite subjects are English and Psychology, and his favorite color is lavender. Chaz likes to watch "Bojack Horseman," "Lord of the Rings" and "South Park," and his favorite food is shrimp cocktails. Outside of school Chaz likes to play guitar, read philosophical and theological literature and go on bike rides. After high school, he plans to study music therapy in college. One piece of advice Chaz has is, "You only live once."
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