State Board Establishing Book Guidelines for Iowa Schools

by Brian Wilson
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The Iowa Board of Education is advancing a set of rules that give schools and teachers some clarification on a law to requires schools to remove books with sexually explicit content or illustrations. Enforcement of the law is set to take effect in January. Iowa Department of Education attorney Thomas Mayes says the proposed rules give officials the ability to end an investigation when a district responds to a complaint.

State officials will not be releasing a list of books which are not to be in classrooms or school libraries. Another part of the new law forbids classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through sixth grade. The Board of Education’s proposed rules say a neutral mention of those topics does not violate the law. Mayes says that would include something like reading a book that happens to have L-G-B-T-Q characters.

The law, which went into effect July 1st, requires schools to notify parents when students ask to use a name that’s different from what’s on school registration forms. The proposed rules clarify that does not apply to a nickname, but only when a student asks to use a name or pronoun at school as part of a gender transition. The department is taking comments on the rules. Public hearings are scheduled to take place in Des Moines on January 3rd and 4th.  

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