Today, HRC reacted to the Iowa Senate’s passage of SF 274, a bill that could allow discrimination against LGBTQ Iowans in institutions of higher education. This legislation, which passed the Iowa Senate by a floor vote today, could be used to allow student groups on university and college campuses to deny membership or leadership to anyone with whom the organization has a difference of “beliefs.” A companion bill in the House of Representatives has been amended to match the language of the Senate’s version but has not yet been scheduled for a vote in that chamber.
In practice, a student group that was founded or operates under anti-LGBTQ beliefs could deliberately exclude members of the LGBTQ community. While some proponents of the bill claim this is not the legislation’s intention, the implementation of this policy could lead to discrimination in Iowa.
“SF 274 is a dangerously drafted bill that could lead to LGBTQ people being treated as second-class students on Iowa’s college campuses,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “As it stands, SF 274 permits the exclusion of LGBTQ students in Iowa’s universities and colleges by excluding them from meaningfully participating — or holding leadership roles — in student groups. Despite members’ attempts to draft this legislation in a way that would not allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination, it could still be a vehicle for singling out LGBTQ people. Now, the Iowa House of Representatives must do what the Senate could not: either fix this harmful language or work to ensure this bill does not become law.”
HRC is proud to work on the ground with One Iowa to promote the rights of LGBTQ Iowans while defending the community against attacks from legislators who would seek to roll back our progress.