Discussion Of LGBTQ Bills Dominates Legislative Coffee Discussion

The city council chamber at City Hall was nearly full for the March 25 legislative coffee in Glenwood.

State Sen. Mark Costello (R) and State Rep. David Sieck (R)  heard criticism during Saturday’s legislative coffee in Glenwood for their support of legislative bills viewed by opponents as potentially harmful to LGBTQ children.

Last week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a “Bathroom Bill” into law as well as legislation which bans gender-affirming care for teens in Iowa. The bathroom bill requires all students to only use restrooms that match the sex they were assigned to at birth. Opponents believe the two bills, and several other bills introduced in the legislature this session will lead to harassment against LGBTQ children.

Meagan Schnoor, the parent of a trans gender child, called out Costello for a statement he had made at a previous legislative coffee.

“Senator Costello, you said you cannot think of one bill that is anti-LGBTQIA. Senator, as of March 1, there were 29 bills,” she said. “Are you completely unaware of what your party is doing?”

Schnoor said Reynolds is "punching down” on LGBTQ children and their parents.

“Governor Reynolds has signed into a law a bathroom bill that prevents children from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and a bill that takes away parental rights for those who seek gender-affirming care. She is punching down. She is hurting those who are fully misunderstood,” Schnoor said.

“Who asked for this? Which constituents? Which doctors. Which psychologists? Which psychiatrists? Which counselors? Which high school educators? With all the troubles for everyday Iowans, who asked you to take away trans children’s rights? Who asked you take away a parent’s ability to make medical decisions for their child. You have weaponized this idea of protecting children to advance this hateful agenda.”

Both Sieck and Costello said they supported the bathroom bill legislation after hearing from parents from “traditional families” who have children that have become uncomfortable using bathrooms and locker rooms with transgender students.

“In the same breath that your child wants the ability to use the restroom or the dressing facilities, there are people that are probably traditionally raised or have a traditional family that has that set of values and you have this set of values. We’re trying to blend that together,” Sieck said. “We have kids not going to the bathroom at all because they’re scared of who’s going to be in that bathroom.”

The bill prohibiting minors to receive gender-affirming surgeries, puberty blockers, and hormone treatment was also addressed by the two legislators, who both said data suggests many children who elect to change their gender identity later regret it.

“We did pass a bill that will prohibit for minors trans gender surgeries and hormone treatments,” Costello said. “The reason for this is one thing about 80 percent that have gender dysphoria change their minds when they go through puberty.

“There’s long-term research in Sweden where they have found that a person who has trans gender surgery is 19 times more likely than the general population to commit suicide.”

The comment drew groans from several members of the audience and a follow-up response from Candella Foley-Finchem

“Trans people and nonbinary people are more likely to commit suicide, but if you get down and actually talk to people that transition, their reason for wanting to commit suicide isn’t because they transitioned, it’s because they’re still not accepted and people are asking them what bathroom they should be going to,” she said.

Schnoor disputed the accuracy of Costello’s claim regarding the percentage of trans gender people that change their mind after surgery, stating that research has shown that number to be around 5 percent.

Both Costello and Sieck said their biggest concern is the age of the child making the decision.

“The fact of the matter is a lot of time children regret it. It’s really not something that should be done at that age,” Costello said. “Now, after you’re 18, it’s up to you. We just think that’s inappropriate. They’re sterilized through this treatment. It’s not something that should be decided at that age. It’s a permanent decision. We just don’t think it’s appropriate and we are protecting people from damage.”

A handful of other issues were addressed at the forum, including the need for the state to provide more dollars for the criminal defense fund and potential changes in laws regarding the publication of legal notices by governing bodies.

The Opinion-Tribune

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