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Iowa ban on LGBTQ books in schools halted by federal judge

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(The Center Square) – A law banning books that reference sex acts of LGBTQ persons was struck down by a federal judge Friday afternoon, but parts of the law will stand.

The judge allowed a portion of the law that requires school personnel to alert parents if their child requests to use a pronoun related to gender identity.

The Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Iowa and the law firm of Jenner and Block challenged Senate File 496. The law would have gone into effect on Monday.

“We are glad our clients, Iowa families and students, will be able to continue the school year free from the harms caused by these parts of this unconstitutional law,” said Nathan Maxwell, senior attorney for Lambda Legal. “This decision sends a strong message to the state that efforts to ban books based on LGBTQ+ content, or target speech that sends a message of inclusion to Iowa LGBTQ+ students cannot stand.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the fact that there is an argument over the issues is “ridiculous.”

“I’m extremely disappointed in today’s ruling,” Reynolds said in a statement Friday evening. “Instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation has no place in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms. And there should be no question that books containing sexually explicit content — as clearly defined in Iowa law — do not belong in a school library for children. The real debate should be about why society is so intent on over-sexualizing our young children. It’s wrong, and I will continue to do my part to protect their innocence.”

Attorney General Brenna Bird said she was disappointed in the ruling.

“Sexually explicit books do not belong in our elementary-school libraries or classrooms,” Bird said in a statement. “Not only is it common sense, it’s the law. As Attorney General, I will keep on fighting to protect families, enforce the law, and keep inappropriate books out of the hands of children in school.”

Penguin Random House, also known as PRH, the Iowa State Education Association and authors Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Malinda Lo and Jodi Picoult filed a separate court challenge to SF496 last month.


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