While much of our time has been spent defending against the relentless attacks on LGBTQ youth, our state legislative agenda is below. Every legislative session, our team spends hundreds of hours speaking with legislators, coalition members, and our supporters about issues affecting our students.
Conversion therapy is a form of psychological abuse where the goal is to change someone who is LGBTQ to becoming heterosexual/cisgender. Many other states have banned conversion therapy. Unfortunately, Iowa is not one of them. Conversion therapy only results in an individual having higher risk rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Sadly, LGBTQ youth are most at-risk for conversion therapy.
Individuals that practice conversion use tactics which include psychological abuse, electric shock, and forced vomiting. Those victimized by conversion therapy are left with lifelong physical and psychological trauma.
In the United States, the LGBTQ+ community makes up 3.5% of the total population yet is vastly overrepresented in hate crime statistics. In 2021, sexual orientation ranked as the second highest motivator for hate crime incidents, with over 1,000 crimes reported nationwide.
The gay/trans panic legal defense legitimizes and excuses such violent and lethal behavior against members of the LGBTQ community. The defense is defined by the LGBT Bar as “a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.”
Iowa Safe Schools has been proud to lead the work on the efforts to outlaw this defense. We’ve ensured it’s passed the Iowa house. Our organization looks forward to getting this bill to the Governor’s desk!
All students deserve a safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environment. Five years of advocacy efforts by Iowa Safe Schools culminated in 2007 with the passing of the Iowa Safe Schools Act — the state’s anti-bullying law. While this provides a foundation for success, there remains a need for additional resources to provide safe schools for all students.
Since the law was passed, teacher intervention in bullying circumstances has remained stagnant, according to a 2017 University of Iowa study. That same University of Iowa study also showed that instances of cyberbullying have increased over time since the law’s inception.
We’re working to ensure that our anti-bullying protections address the issues our students continue to face.
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