University paper, faculty decry legislation to protect children from underage sex changes

In response to legislation that seeks to protect biological women being passed in Iowa, members of the University of Iowa community accused the bill of being 'anti-LGBTQ.'

State Senator Cherielynn Westrich, however, told Campus Reform that the bill aims to protect all children and is not targeting the LGBTQ community.

Recently passed legislation in Iowa has caught the attention of members of the University of Iowa (UI), who called it out for being “anti-LGBTQ.” A state senator, however, spoke with Campus Reform about misconceptions surrounding her bill.

On Mar. 7, Senate File 482 was passed by the Iowa Senate, a piece of legislation that prohibits “persons from entering single and multiple occupancy restrooms or changing areas and other facilities in elementary and secondary schools that do not correspond with the person’s biological sex.”

A second bill, Senate File 538, was passed by the Iowa House a day later, with the purpose of preventing minors from acquiring gender reassignment surgery and related medical interventions. 

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Senate File 538 reads in part, “a health care professional shall not knowingly engage in or cause any of the following practices to be performed on a minor if the practice is performed for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or affirm the minor’s perception of, the minor’s gender or sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

In response, members of the UI community shared their thoughts about the “anti-LGBTQ” bills being passed in their state. 

UI’s school newspaper, The Daily Iowan, published an article titled “UI organizations react to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation” in which UI Lecturer Julie Alexander criticized the bills.

“Proposed legislation that ultimately would harm any of our student communities is of concern. For many of our LGBTQ+ students, the university is the only institution where they feel supported to thrive in their intersectional identities,” Alexander told The Daily Iowan

“As always, regardless of whether the bill passes, our top concern is the health and well-being of our students, across all sexual orientations and gender identities. They are valid and deserve to feel safe,” Alexander added.

Contrasting with The Daily Iowan’s framing of the bills as being “anti-LGBTQ,” Iowa Senator Cherielynn Westrich, sponsor of Senate File 482, told Campus Reform that the bill affects all students, not just those within the LGBTQ community.

She first referred to the bill as “a victory for privacy rights for Iowa kids.”

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”Fellow legislative colleagues and I have been contacted multiple times by families facing the issue of their daughters sharing changing facilities, bathrooms, and even showers with young men at school,” Westrich proceeded to explain. “Historically we have provided and divided public changing and bathroom facilities by biological sex. This bill provides that we will continue to do so and provide privacy for all kids.”

When asked her thoughts on the response of those associated with the University of Iowa, Westrich told Campus Reform, “This bill provides privacy rights for all kids, no group of children is singled out. If a biological male feels uncomfortable changing with other biological males, he will be allowed to change in a private facility provided by the school.”

”We must stop sexualizing the childhood innocence of these little ones,” concluded Westrich.

Campus Reform reached out to every individual and institution mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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