Since sending this only resulted in a MailChimp reply, I decided to share my letter here.
I write to you today to express my opposition to HR 8 and HR 9 for the following reasons:
1) Legislating what can and can’t be said, including in school, is about as un-American as you can get. Let’s not.
2) Children deserve some privacy, and having teachers or other school staff running to parents over gender-varying comments or requests, such as pronouns, is more likely to harm kids than do any child any good. Let kids decide whom to talk to about what. They deserve the same respect the rest of us demand when it comes to discussing our bodies.
3) Parents, teachers, and children should be left to develop their own relationships and ways of communicating with each other about sensitive topics like gender, rather than having the state barge in with inflexible rules. The state does not have a legitimate role in dictating how people should discuss, let alone deal with, issues of personal identity like gender. That’s what families, churches, and communities are for.
4) The language in both bills, but especially HR 9, is vague and impractical. Just as one example, according to HR 9, parents aren’t to be “pressured” into allowing children gender-affirming care. When does “suggesting” or “encouraging” become “pressuring?” People who feel like a teacher behaved wrongly already have ways to call those teachers to account. Let’s not set up school districts for “Wahhhhh the teacher looked at me funny, call the police” nonsense. We all know there are whiners who live for opportunities to make drama because they don’t have enough to do. If a parent can’t deal with a teacher’s comment, even if forcefully expressed, that parent should try growing a spine. Parents do have rights, of course, but I very much doubt those rights include “never having to hear things they don’t like” or “never having their feelings hurt.”
5) Proposals like HR 8 and HR 9 copy policies cookie-cutter style from places like Florida, and as such, they erase Iowa’s own conservative traditions in favor of conservatism imported from the American South. If Iowa wants to compete for business and residents, the state needs to have its own political identity and culture. Copying DeSantis makes Kim Reynolds look good to the powers that be in the national GOP, and while that’s swell for her on her way to cabinet positions or ambassadorships, it degrades the state of Iowa in insidious ways when we do it time and time again. The world doesn’t need Iowa to be a mini-Florida. It already has a Florida.
Iowa has a conservative tradition of our own and we don’t need to subjugate our ideas to those of other, louder, more populated places willing to use the state to regulate what ought to be entirely matters of private choice—even if it means letting people do things and call themselves things that others do not like. Toleration as political virtue has always been something that I cherished about my neighbors here in Iowa. Localism and sensitivity to local character is a founding principle of Jeffersonian republicanism, and it merits respect and preservation rather than rushing off to make sure we’re all marching lockstep with whatever the loudmouths on FoxNews are ranting about from day-to-day.
The Iowans I grew up with knew that sticking our noses into other peoples’ conversations, private lives, and gender is simultaneously rude and very likely futile. The Iowa this bill’s sponsors seem to want is a place where the state rules over private thought and initiative. If individuals do not like gender fluidity, they are free not to associate with gender-fluid people—that’s sufficient to the point—without having the state intervene to boss people about.
Thank you for your time and for your public service.
All good things
PS please don’t propose or support any upcoming book-banning bills either. In 2023, those bills just make their sponsors look like internet-ignorant rubes. There is no faster way to make a kid read something than to tell them it’s a dirty book.