A bill that’s on its way to the governor would require that students in Iowa K-12 schools use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the gender on their birth certificate.

After a sometimes contentious debate, 57 House Republicans voted for the measure. Five Republicans and all Democrats present voted against the policy.

Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, said he’s heard from countless parents who’ve expressed support for the measure. “I had four daughters,” Holt said, “and I think a lot of folks would be very, very, very much concerned about their daughters having to change clothes in a locker room with a male.”

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights said the policy is unnecessary and sends an unwelcoming message about Iowa. “All of us, including transgender students, care about the safety and privacy in restrooms and locker rooms,” Konfrst said. “…It is already illegal for anyone to enter these facilities to harm or harass someone or intentionally invade someone’s privacy.”

Other Democrats like Representative Austin Baeth of Des Moines say the bill is an attack on an already marginalized group of kids. “These are sweet, innocent kids, folks, who just need to go pee,” Baeth said. “Let’s stay the hell out of it.”

Holt replied that nothing in the bill would prevent students from peeing, as it calls for schools to make other restrooms available to transgender students. “The folks supporting this bill did not move the goal posts. It was understood until recently that biology is what determined the use of restrooms,” Holt said. “…This bill really tries to address the concerns on both sides of this issue.”

The bill passed the Senate on March 7 with the support of 33 Republicans. All Democrats in the Senate opposed it.

Radio Iowa