Mike Pence in Minnesota. (photo from Pence Twitter feed.)

Former Vice President Mike Pence is hosting an event in Cedar Rapids this afternoon focused on parental rights. Pence addressed the same topic this morning in Minneapolis.

“Radical gender ideology has seeped into our classrooms,” Pence said, “teaching children to hate their own bodies and furthering the notion that it’s possible to transition from one gender to another.”

As Pence was speaking in Minnesota, a federal judge in St. Paul was hearing the lawsuit filed by a group of Iowa parents. They object to a Linn-Mar school district policy that lets students ask for a gender support plan at school without notifying parents.

“You do not craft a gender transition plan for my child without my knowledge or consent,” Pence said. “I believe the American people believe that.”

Pence, who is expected to launch a 2024 presidential campaign soon, formed a group called Advancing American Freedom last year. The organization plans to hold events like the one today in Cedar Rapids and air messages on digital platforms and perhaps buy ads on Iowa radio and TV stations. According to Pence, it’s a response to parents who feel helpless in objecting to “radical left” policies in schools.

“We owe our children and our grandchildren an America where parents guide the choices of our children at home
and at school,” Pence said in Minnesota.

Pence addressed a crowd at a Pizza Ranch in Cedar Rapids that included some of the parents who are suing Linn-Mar.

“We’re asking the court to end this dangerous and degrading policy and restore sanity and the primitive role of parents in schools not just here in Iowa, but all across America,” Pence said.

Over 50 protesters gathered outside the restaurant where Pence was speaking, holding signs in support of trans children. Hiawatha City Council member Aime Wichtendahl called Pence’s message harmful.

“All the Republican politicians just beat up on trans kids…to be divisive to and get the votes of their base and it’s absolutely disgusting,” she said. “And it’s harmful both to our state and country.”

Pence is among the high-profile Republicans visiting Iowa this month, less than a year before Republicans here will host the first-in-the-nation Caucuses. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott will be here next week. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced yesterday she’s running for president and she’ll visit Iowa Monday. Former Arkansas Governor Asa  Hutchinson was in central Iowa today.

(By Minnesota News Network’s Bill Werner in Minneapolis, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters in Cedar Rapids and Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson in Des Moines.)

Radio Iowa