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Iowa bill would force school districts to notify parents before teaching kids about gay and transgender issues

'Parents have the right to know'

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Shouldn't parents be able to know if a public school is teaching their kids something they disagree with? A group of legislators in Iowa wants to make sure that's the case when it comes to gay and transgender issues.

Under a bill currently working its way through the Iowa legislature, public school districts would be required to inform parents when their kids' instruction includes information about transgenderism or homosexuality and allow them to opt their children out.

The bill — House Fill 2201 — would require every school district in the state that "that provides any program, curriculum, material, test, survey, questionnaire, activity, announcement, promotion, or instruction of any kind relating to sexual orientation or gender identity" to annually notify parents about the content of the course material. It also stipulates that no students would be required to participate in any of the instruction if a parent or guardian requests that the child be excused. The measure currently has 13 co-sponsors, according to the version on the Iowa State Legislature's website.

A 2-1 majority of a panel of state legislators voted to move the bill up to the full House Education Committee on Monday, the newspaper reports.

"Not all students, parents or families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding sexual orientation or gender identity issues," bill co-sponsor and state representative Sandy Salmon said on Monday, according to the Des Moines Register. "And they should be allowed to opt out of instruction that contains that."

"Parents have the right to know when it comes to a controversial issue what their children are being taught in schools they're paying for," said Burlington, Iowa, Pastor Brad Cranston in favor of the proposed legislation on Monday, according to a story at WHO-DT.

But some detractors worry that the language of the bill would complicate things for educators when it comes to figuring out what exactly would trigger parental notification.

"What if we're having a discussion on current events and there's a presidential candidate who is gay?" said Emily Piper from the Iowa Association of School Boards, according to the WHO story. "Can we not have that conversation in the government class?"

But despite the concerns about how the bill is currently written, state representative Tom Moore thinks refining the language was something that the whole committee should work on together.

"The bill is not ready to move forward, but the discussion is," Moore said, according to the Sioux City Journal. "I'm going to support this in subcommittee because I don't think three of us should discuss this. I think the whole education committee should discuss it and make that decision."

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