Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge told students at the annual Governor’s Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgenger (LGBT) Youth Thursday that the state has come a long way in the five years since the conference started. Judge, a Democrat, says changes in law have added protections for LGBT students in schools and all Iowans in Civil Rights law. But, Judge says there are still challenges.
Judge says there are folks in Iowa today that say LGBT students do not deserve the protections and there was a bill in the legislature to strip those provisions from the safe schools law. She says the efforts of “fair minded” legislators ensured that the bill is not going anywhere this session. Judge said the Culver administration will continue doing all it can to protect the rights of the LGBT students.
Judge says they do have to address problems that LGBT students face. She says many students still face bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And Judge says they are seeing far higher rates of homelessness and substance abuse among LGBT youth than there is in the general population. The Lieutenant Governor told the students at the conference that they would be helping develop solutions to the problems and asked them to help put them in place.
“When you go back to your schools, you’re going to have to stand up for those who do not have a voice,” Judge said. “work with your school administrators, your teachers, your classmates to increase tolerance, and increase acceptance of every student in your school.” The conference was Thursday at Drake University in Des Moines.