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Iowa Lawmakers Seek To Strip Gay Students Of Protections To Protest Same Sex Marriage

By Igor Volsky on February 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

"Iowa Lawmakers Seek To Strip Gay Students Of Protections To Protest Same Sex Marriage"

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Schoolhouse inside 005Two Iowa state legislators are using gay and lesbian public school students as pawns to “force a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.” Reps. Jason Schultz and Matt Windschitl want to remove sexual orientation and gender identity/expression from a list of enumerated categories already listed in Iowa’s Safe Schools law because the Iowa Supreme Court pointed to the law “in making its April decision to legalize same-sex marriage.”

“I didn’t do this to try to hurt anybody,” Schultz explained to a local TV station, “but this is a policy decision to trying to forward an agenda of the Iowa we all used to know and love and that seems to be changing right in front of our eyes.” Schultz’ amendment literally crosses-out ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ from the Iowa’s Safe School’s Law:

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“The Bully Bill or Safe School Act doesn’t protect anyone anyway. Schools are already doing this, so to remove few words doesn’t change the intent or effect of the law,” Schultz said, directly contradicting research that finds that “safe schools laws that specifically enumerate protected categories are more effective than laws that do not.”

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Iowa is the “10th state to protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and only the fifth to protect students on the basis of gender expression.” A 2005 survey concluded that “LGBT students who were covered by a comprehensive safe school policy that specifically protects sexual orientation were less likely to report being harassed at school, more likely to tell school officials when incidents of harassment occurred..and more than twice as likely to have a teacher intervene when harassment occurred versus students covered by a non-enumerated, or “generic,” policy.” The survey found that “having a non-enumerated policy in place made virtually no difference to student experience versus having no anti-bullying policy at all.”

Fortunately, Iowa residents and lawmakers don’t share Schultz’s zeal for overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Yesterday, Republican lawmakers tried to pull a measure amending the Iowa constitution to ban gay marriage out of committee, “but they couldn’t get enough votes in either the House or Senate.” The latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found that “more than 60 percent of Iowans surveyed in the latest say lawmakers have more important things to worry about than same-sex marriage.” But this may not stop Schultz from continuing to revive the issue. After the constitutional amendment measure failed to get out of committee, Schultz tweeted, “54 Iowa House Democrats vote against the Marriage Amendment!”

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