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Report: IA Shifts Policy Approach on LGBTQ Issues

More than 3% of Iowa's adult population identifies as LGBTQ. (Adobe Stock)
More than 3% of Iowa's adult population identifies as LGBTQ. (Adobe Stock)
February 12, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A new report gives Iowa a "fair" grade when it comes to policies that support its LGBTQ residents. The Movement Advancement Project report summarizes both the progress and roadblocks seen by members of the LGBTQ community in all states over the past decade.

It said Iowa's overall score has improved, but added the state isn't as supportive of these individuals or their rights as it once was. Logan Casey, policy researcher at MAP, said the tone has changed at the Capitol.

"In the latter half of the decade, more recently, there's really been sort of an about-face in terms of the state policy landscape in Iowa, and the activities and the work that's being done at the state level toward LGBTQ politics," Casey said.

Casey sees Iowa's shift as largely the result of an organized national movement opposed to laws that could be interpreted as pro-LGBTQ. One bill now being considered by Iowa lawmakers would require school districts to notify parents before sexual-orientation topics are taught.

Supporters of the bill say not all families feel this should be part of school curriculum. But Casey said such policy efforts can have harmful effects on transgender students.

Still, the report bumped Iowa's overall score from 13.5 to 17, out of a possible 38.5 in measuring policy. Casey said some of the increase was due to action taken in 2014 to ease the state's law dealing with punishment for transmitting HIV. And that isn't all.

"One of the biggest policy successes of the movement was, of course, the national recognition of same-sex marriage and marriage equality, Casey said. "And again, Iowa was an early mover and recognizer of marriage equality for LGBTQ people."

Despite recent activity at the state level, some Iowa cities have been recognized for embracing the LGBTQ community. Last fall, the Human Rights Campaign gave Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Iowa City perfect ratings for ordinances that support the movement.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA