Seven states have passed laws in 2021 that restrict transgender athletes from participating in girls sports activities in schools.
House Speaker Pat Grassley says “a lot of” House Republicans have an interest in passing similar legislation here, but he says the key is ensuring what’s passed could be enforced by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
“We shouldn’t just pass something so we can go home and say: ‘We passed something.’ If we’re going to pass policy, it has to be a policy that they can implement,” Grassley says. “…We’re trying to come up with a way that gives the clarity that’s needed because, ultimately, they’re the ones that are going to have to make sure who’s participating in what.”
Grassley says while there’s no bill ready on day one of the 2022 legislative session, that does mean one won’t emerge before the end of the 2022 legislative session.
“I spend about four days a week of mine in a gymnasium, watching my two daughters play a lot of extracurricular activities,” Grassley says. “This is an issue that I hear a lot about.”
Grassley says he’s also hearing from school board members who’re asking for a statewide policy on books in schools that some parents complain have pornographic content. Grassley says ensuring parents get input in their child’s education is a huge topic nationally right now.
“A bill that goes in and says: ‘You’re going to ban X, Y, Z book’ — a very hard piece of policy to craft, obviously,” Grassley says, “but the conversation itself will continue.”
House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, a Democrat from Windsor Heights, says these types of conversations are not helpful to resolving the state’s workforce shortage.
“In the last session, Iowa had the most LGBTQ bills of any state in the country introduced and none passed. Even the introduction of those bills sends a hateful message to people who are looking to live here or stay here after they graduate from college,” Konfrst says. “We need to be doing things to make Iowa more inclusive, not less.”
The 2022 Iowa legislative session starts on Monday, January 10.