Skyler Wheeler. (IA Legislature photo)

Republicans on a House committee have passed a bill that requires educators to notify parents if their child asks to be known by a different gender at school.

“Schools do not have the right to keep secrets from parents,” said Representative Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Hull who’s chairman of the House Education Commitee.

Democrats oppose the bill. Representative Art Staid of Cedar Rapids said students who fear their parents’ reaction need to talk with a trusted teacher. “I don’t think it’s any different than a child going to a priest to give confession,” Staid said. “You wouldn’t want them to share that publicly or with their parents.”

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, said the bill sends the wrong message about Iowa.

“These divisive, culture war bills will continue to worsen Iowa employers’ ability to attract and recruit and retain a world class workforce,” Steckman said.

Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, replied: “We didn’t start the culture war, but you can bet we are now engaged…This legislation is about respecting the rights of the parents in choosing how to raise their children and what standards by which they will raise their children.”
and the government does not get to dictate that.”

The bill was the subject of a public hearing earlier today and passed the House Education Committee tonight. It’s now eligible for a vote on the House floor.