Home News Around the Region: Iowa Senate votes to allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in higher ed student groups

Around the Region: Iowa Senate votes to allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in higher ed student groups

Around the Region: Iowa Senate votes to allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in higher ed student groups

Iowa senators pass a bill that would prevent higher education institutions from sanctioning student groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, LGBTQ Nation reports:

The Iowa senate passed a bill that could ban universities from enforcing anti-discrimination policies in student clubs late last night.
All 29 Republicans voted in favor of it and all 19 Democrats and one Independent voted against it.
Proponents of Senate Bill 3120 say it’s about free speech on campus. The bill saysthat universities “shall not deny benefits of privileges available to student organizations based on the viewpoint of a student organization” or “the student organization’s requirement that the leaders of the student organization affirm or agree to the student organization’s beliefs or standards of conduct.”
An amendment just before the bill passed struck a section that said, “A public institution of higher education may prohibit student organizations from discriminating against members or prospective members on the basis of any protected status recognized by federal or state law.” The state of Iowa bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

At Iowa State University, the student government passed a resolution calling on the administration to prioritize the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming students, Iowa State Daily reports:

Student Government passed a resolution Wednesday evening in support of transgender and gender non-conforming students, asking administration to prioritize gender inclusive restrooms on campus.
Approved by unanimous consent, the resolution also calls for Iowa State to “require gender-inclusive restrooms in any requests for proposals for new facilities or building expansions on or off campus.
According to a map provided by the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, there are 30 gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.
The Center defines a gender-inclusive restroom as “a single stall, lockable restroom, open to the public, with signage that indicates that anyone may use that restroom, regardless of gender.”
The resolution was introduced by Sen. Lilian Juma, Sen. Kylee Cox, Vice President Cody Smith and Senior Director of Academic Affairs Kara Masteller.
“We recognize that there are several students on our campus that do not identify as cisgender (binary) and may not feel comfortable using restrooms labeled male or female,” according to the resolution. “We believe Iowa State University should work to make our campus more inclusive to these students.”

The Des Moines Register gave a thumbs down to the efforts of Orange City residents to ban books with LGBTQ themes:

A thistle to Sioux County Conservatives and others who are pushing to ban or segregate books related to homosexual and transgender content.
A flier was distributed throughout Orange City that denounced the young-adult and children’s books and cited health concerns — including higher rates of suicide, depression, substance abuse and other problems — among the LGBTQ population.
Hmmm, do you wonder why that might be? And how our society might address those issues? And whether shame, stigma and prejudice might just play a role?
But to the group opposed to these books, it’s about fighting an “agenda.”
We all should be able to agree on an agenda of intellectual freedom and equitable service and access. Public libraries must serve everyone: black and white, rich and poor, religious and atheist. And yes, gay and straight.
And these materials shouldn’t be stuck on their own shelf, as some in Orange City are arguing. Patrons — particularly questioning teens — should have their privacy protected and should be able to check out materials without judgment.
Out of 64,000 materials, the Orange City Public Library has 168 books — less than three-tenths of 1 percent — that feature LGBTQ content. That cannot be representative of Orange City, or of any community in the state.
The library’s Board of Trustees should send a message that these patrons — and everyone — are welcome.

The City of De Pere hosted a public session on the city’s recent nondiscrimination ordinance, WSAW reports:

On Tuesday night the city hosted a public information session featuring Stacie Christian, Ph.D. Christian is the director of Inclusive Excellence and Pride Center at UW-Green Bay.
Christian said, “It will definitely expand the opportunity for students to have housing in this area, employment. Individuals will be more interested in working here and coming here to shop, in fact. Right now at this point people often go to Appleton because it’s already considered to be an inclusive community. Knowing about this ordinance and how people really are inclusive in De Pere will be very positive.”
However, not everyone at this meeting was in favor of the ordinance.
Pastor Matt Baye represents one of the De Pere churches backing the lawsuit against the city. .
Baye is asking that religious organizations be exempt.
“We’re specifically looking for the exemption that would allow us to have freedom specifically in how we hire and retain employees and also in terms of the ways that we promote our specific message in accordance with the Bible,” said Baye, who serves as pastor at Hope Lutheran Church.
City council member Casey Nelson is among those who voted in favor of the ordinance but said he’s not able to speak about the lawsuit.
Nelson said, “A lot of other states have done it already. Other municipalities in Wisconsin have done it, so we’re just kind of catching up to the rest.”
The city has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit from the day it was filed.
So far no court hearings have been set.

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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.