Gov. Kim Reynolds pushed 'parental rights' to Moms for Liberty crowd. Protesters pushed back
Over the interruptions of protesters, Gov. Kim Reynolds told a conservative audience Thursday night that she isn't done rooting out "indoctrination" in Iowa's public schools.
The "Giving Parents a Voice" townhall, hosted by the national advocacy group Moms for Liberty at Franklin Junior High Auditorium in Des Moines, highlighted controversial questions surrounding public school curriculum, including issues on gender-affirming care for LGBTQ students and the inclusion of critical race theory.
In addition to Reynolds, the event featured several prominent Iowa Republicans. Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich said at the event that the organization aims to "defend parental rights at all levels of government" by ensuring parents have more involvement in their children's education.
Attendees cheered as Reynolds and her Republican colleagues celebrated the recent passage of the "school choice" bill and discussed other legislation quickly making its way through the legislature, including bills that require parental consent for students to use new pronouns and limit "social-emotional learning" curriculum.
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Reynolds applauded the work of educators at Thursday's event but also called for an end to what she called "indoctrination" in the public school system.
"It's sad that any of this actually needs to be written into law, but unfortunately that is where we're at," Reynolds said.
She also said she plans to back the legislation making its way through the chambers and promote more which requires greater oversight over books available to students.
"Material that is removed by any Iowa school district would require consent in every district before being shared with children," she said.
Conservative parents in Iowa push for new legislation
Conservative parents have been a driving force in Iowa politics in recent years, as the COVID-19 pandemic spurred groups such as Moms for Liberty to fight against what they saw as "woke" policies.
That eventually led to debates over library books, more conservatives running for local school boards and demands for more control by parents of the curriculum.
Organizers and speakers at Thursday's meeting also encouraged those in attendance to join a local Moms for Liberty chapter and to run for school boards and other local public offices.
Current and future legislation in Iowa
During the current legislative session, Iowa Republicans have introduced a flurry of controversial bills to prevent Iowa schools from accommodating LGBTQ students and teaching about LGBTQ and social justice concepts.
House File 9, a bill that will require parental consent for students to use a new name or pronouns, is poised for debate on the House floor after being moved through by the House Education Committee on Tuesday evening.
Many Republican lawmakers are also backing Senate File 85, which would instruct the Department of Education to stop disseminating information about "social-emotional learning."
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Other proposals, including a bill to prohibit gender identity instruction through eighth grade, still need to pass through the House or Senate Education Committee.
Republican lawmakers at Thursday’s event also promised more bills are in the works.
Sen. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, who authored Senate File 85, said she is already working on additional bills focusing on public higher education institutions and ones that will prevent teachers from "having to make statements of loyalty to an ideology to get a job."
Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, also said he is working on legislation to ban critical race theory in schools.
Protesters push back on calls for 'parental rights'
A handful of protestors interspersed themselves throughout the crowd, each standing up intermittently to interrupt Reynolds' speech Thursday night before being escorted out individually by police.
Many voiced their opposition to the Republican-led legislature's current efforts. One protestor carrying a blue, pink and white transgender flag called for measures to make LGBTQ students feel safe in the classroom.
"It is my job to keep them safe," the protestor yelled as police walked them out of the building. The crowd responded to each protestor by chanting "USA."
During the townhall's Q&A session, some in opposition to the upcoming legislation also expressed their concerns that the new measures will make schools even more hostile for students in the LGBTQ community, leading to potential negative mental health outcomes.
Katie Akin contributed reporting.
Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at FBlock@registermedia.com or on Twitter at @francescablock3.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Republican lawmakers join Moms for Liberty to advocate parental choice