Home News Around the Region: Iowa’s Rep. King wants ban on trans people using Capitol bathrooms

Around the Region: Iowa’s Rep. King wants ban on trans people using Capitol bathrooms

Around the Region: Iowa’s Rep. King wants ban on trans people using Capitol bathrooms


Iowa Rep. Steve King wants to ban transgender people from using the bathroom at the U.S. Capitol and surrounding buildings, the Washington Blade reports:

An Iowa Republican who has a reputation for being vehemently anti-LGBT has proposed a measure that would effectively bar transgender people from using the restroom in the U.S. Capitol consistent with their gender identity.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has proposed an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 legislative branch appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of funds under the legislation for allowing any individual “to use any bathroom other than the bathroom of the individual’s biological sex.”
The measure would effectively bar transgender people from using the public restroom consistent with their gender identity in the U.S. Capitol as well as the Library of Congress or the House or Senate office buildings.

Roll Call reports that the bill is unlikely to be heard any time soon:

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions told reporters that there’s unlikely to be a vote on an amendment to the Legislative Branch appropriations bill to prevent transgender bathrooms on Capitol Hill.
Sessions said a point of order has been raised against the amendment, which was offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
“I think that the policy issues of the Capitol should emanate in a policy committee,” Sessions said, suggesting it should be considered by the House Administration Committee. “[Chair] Candice Miller needs the first whack at it.”

The Globe Gazette calls on law enforcement to do a better job of reporting hate crimes:

Depending on whom you listen to, Iowa has or doesn’t have a hate crime problem.
We think that there are more hate crimes than are being reported. That, for whatever reason, the reporting can be inconvenient or difficult to prove. It’s certainly something for the state – and all of us – to pay more attention to.
A story from the Lee Enterprises Des Moines Bureau said, that based on a review of federal records, two out of five Iowa law enforcement agencies – 164 — did not file any hate crime reports to the FBI over a six-year period. That is the seventh-highest rate in the nation, according to The Associated Press, which reviewed the records.
In North Iowa, 10 agencies reported no hate crimes over those six years; other communities went anywhere from two to four years. Mason City and Cerro Gordo County were absent from the list, not surprising given their large population.
We’d all love to think that North Iowa is an idyllic place where people get along pretty well with each other. For the most part, that’s true, but numerous disturbances are reported. A fair number are domestic in nature. Others run the gamut, and – pardon our skeptical nature – it’s hard to believe at least some would not be classified as hate crimes.
Victim advocates and advocacy groups say that’s the case when looking at the overall state picture.

The Des Moines Register did a series on transgender Iowans last week. The first section spoke directly with 22 members of the transgender community, and the second interviewed transgender youth about school safety and access:

Sean Finn came out as transgender as a high school sophomore and, almost immediately, his weekday water consumption dropped drastically.
From the first bell to the last, he didn’t drink any liquid, he said, because he didn’t want to have to use the school bathroom.
With the national focus on North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, which requires people to use the facility associated with their biological gender, restrooms have taken center stage in the debate over transgender rights. The North Carolina law has triggered a backlash from companies reconsidering expanding operations or conducting conferences there, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the state have filed dueling lawsuits over whether the law is discriminatory.
As of late May, 18 states have considered bills similar to North Carolina’s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Iowa was not among them.
For transgender youths in Iowa, the “bathroom issue” hits especially close to home.
In interviews with The Des Moines Register, transgender youths from across the state reported a hesitation similar to Finn’s about using school bathrooms. Even thoughthe Iowa Civil Rights Act expressly allows transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity, going to the school restroom with peers who knew them before their transition can be uncomfortable, many said.
“It was just so awkward,” said Finbar Murphy, 17, a recent graduate of Roosevelt High School. “I’d rather hold it until I get home than deal with that.

WHO checked in on transgender students’ access to school athletics:

Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Executive Director Mike Dick said, “Each local school knows their situation and their athlete. They know their background and it’s up to them to determine which gender they are. Once they have identified a male becoming a female, they would now be allowed to particpate in girls athletics.”
Controversy arose two weeks ago in Alaska when a girl, born a boy, took fifth place in the 100 meter dash and third place in the 200 meter dash at the Alaska girls state track meet.
Nevada girls soccer coach and Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame member Randy Davis is familiar with the topic. “I have a transgendered student in class right now and you just try and do what’s best for that individual.”
A recommendation policy by both the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union was set in the spring of 2015 opening the gates for athletes to play sports with the gender they identify with.
Mike Dick said, “It has to be total. It can’t be a partial just to play volleyball or softball and play a boys sport, they would play totally as a female.”

The Spencer Daily Reporter wrote about the GSA in Storm Lake:

As the 2015-16 school year began, Roberto Loera decided to take action about the discrimination he had experienced as a gay person. “I had been bullied at school, and I had been discriminated against in some local stores. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. But as I got older, I saw more of it, and I gradually felt I had a duty to help others.”
He thought he could make a positive impact. “I wrote a letter to the school, and I said we need to take action to create an organization to help students feel confident with themselves. So we formed the SLHS GSA; the Storm Lake High School Gay-Straight Alliance. ”
The Gay-Straight Alliance is a nationwide network of clubs, usually at high schools and middle schools. They talk about issues they face, and work to end homophobia and transphobia. Loera says, “It’s a well known group throughout the country, and I was a little surprised there wasn’t one already in Storm Lake.”
Loera says the GSA became more popular as the school year progressed. “At first, we had about ten people at the meetings. More people came by, but they were too shy to come in. We meet twice a month, and by our last meeting we had 15-25 people attending, and among the incoming freshmen, 80 people have expressed an interest. That’s good to know.”

North Dakota
A Fargo church is installing a gay pastor, WDAY reports:

A 130 year old Fargo congregation is making some new waves.
This month, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church will install one of the region’s first openly gay pastors.
It’s been a transitional three years for St. Mark’s.
The congregation shares space in this building with another church.
During that time, members say they’ve stuck to a set of core principles, and now they say they’ve found a pastor who is the church’s ideal match.
Pastor Joe Larson is just starting to settle into his new office.
He’s already helping with church responsibilities and whole heartedly adopting the congregation’s longstanding mantra.
“We’re meant to be a place for people like me and others that this is a safe place. This is a place where I can be welcomed for the person I am,” says Rev. Joseph Larson.

A lesbian has been removed as Grand Marshal at the Milwaukee Pride Parade after transphobic comments, Fox 6 reports:

When it comes to fighting for gay and lesbian rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more battle-tested soldier than Milwaukee’s own Miriam Ben-Shalom.
“My concern is not with the transgender people. My concern is with the pretenders.” ~Miriam Ben-Shalom
“If I have to march in lock step to some political line, then to heck with it. Because I don’t march in lock step,” Ben-Shalom said.
But when it comes to transgender rights, she might just be fighting for the other side.

Miriam Ben-Shalom
“My fight is ensuring that women are safe from the pretenders who might use the trans issue to get in and hurt somebody,” Ben-Shalom said.
And that helps to explain why she was invited to serve as grand marshal of the Milwaukee Pride Parade, only to be told ‘nevermind.’
“Her mindsets don’t line up with ours at this time,” said Brent Holmes, coordinator of the parade.

Parade coordinator Brent Holmes called Ben-Shalom’s selection as grand marshal a ‘no-brainer’ until they saw her Facebook posts.
Holmes said this year’s theme is “Heroes Of Pride,” which made the selection of Ben-Shalom a no-brainer. That is, until board members noticed her Facebook page.
“It was a shock to all of us,” Holmes said.
In recent weeks, Ben-Shalom shared posts asking whether transgender women are a threat in public restrooms, and created her own posts calling them “violent and judgmental” — even urging other lesbians to “Get the ‘L’ out of LGBT.”

Lake Country Now took a look at school policies on transgender inclusion:

At Arrowhead High School, the requests of transgender students are addressed on a case-by-case basis, said Superintendent Laura Myrah.
Myrah said the school board has not discussed the issue recently, but the board’s policy committee, during its recent annual district policy handbook review process, talked about whether Arrowhead should develop a new policy on the topic. Committee members ultimately decided against it.
“It was decided a new policy would not be written at this time because we already have a nondiscrimination policy in place that mimics Wisconsin law, and because the current practice of handling individual situations as they arise has worked effectively for years,” Myrah said.
To the east, in the Pewaukee School District, Superintendent JoAnn Sternke said the district is committed to maintaining a safe environment that respects the dignity of all students.
“Like many districts, we are in a bit of a ‘wait and see’ mode as federal and state agencies work through this sensitive issue,” Sternke said in a prepared statement. “In the meantime, we will work with our students and families to provide practical and reasonable solutions as needs arise.”

South Dakota
South Dakota will join a dozen other states in suing the federal government over transgender-inclusive school guidance, the Argus Leader reports:

South Dakota is set to join a coalition of a dozen states in a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its guidance on school bathroom policies for transgender students.
Attorney General Marty Jackley said he intends to challenge the Department of Education’s “dear colleague” letter sent to schools last month. The letter said schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.
Jackley in a statement Tuesday said the issue should be handled at a local level and, in his opinion, federal law can’t direct school districts.
“As Attorney General it was and remains my hope that our country and state can find a solution to the transgender concerns without forcing children of the opposite sex into the same bathrooms and locker rooms,” Jackley said in a statement. “The President’s attempt to require children of opposite sex to share locker rooms and bathrooms under the threat of lawsuit and withholding of education funding is a one size fits all solution that goes beyond his constitutional authority.”

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


  1. Iowa Rep. Steve King, like many of the Mendacious Republicans, has his head you know where, and acts totally oblivious to the fact Trans people have been in the bathroom with him and his family for ever, and Nothing has ever happened. He cannot say that about his Republican cohorts though, as they are listed as perverts on GOOGLE. You wonder as to how many millions of State dollars are wasted over their efforts to admonish LGBTQI People. Sickest politicians on earth.


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