Bill Limiting School Restroom Use to Biological Sex Advances in Iowa Legislature

February 12, 2021 Updated: February 12, 2021

A bill that would require all students in Iowa to use school bathrooms according to their biological sex cleared the state’s Senate Education Subcommittee on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation “prohibits a person from entering a school single and multiple occupancy toilet facility that does not correspond with the person’s biological sex.” It also declares that such prohibition would “not constitute unfair or discriminatory practices in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.”

Similar bills have been introduced in the past, but this one is the first to receive a subcommittee hearing, according to Des Moines Register. The bill is now heading to the full Senate Education Committee for consideration.

Republican state Sen. Jim Carlin, who sponsored the bill, said its purpose is to protect women and girls from sexual predators.

“The intention or purpose behind this bill is not any animus or hatred towards anybody in the LGBT community,” Carlin said, reported the Register. “It’s important to note that the concern is not so much with transgender individuals likely to be sexual predators but that sexual predators could exploit such laws by posing as transgender in order to gain access to women and girls.”

The attempt to restrict bathroom use in Iowa schools comes as President Joe Biden, in one of his first-week executive actions, revived an Obama-era policy that allows students to use restrooms and compete in sports teams that are aligned with their gender identity, instead of their biological sex.

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the executive order states.

Citing a Supreme Court decision in June 2020, the order extends the federal anti-sexual discrimination law to cover discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, workplace, and health care settings.

“Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes,” the order states. “People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination.”

Under Biden’s new order, federal agencies must review existing policies relative to Title VII or other laws or regulations that prohibit sex-based discrimination and develop a plan to implement the order within 100 days.