On Thursday, March 22, One Iowa Action released new data revealing that 45 percent of private K-12 schools in Iowa explicitly discriminate or reserve the right to discriminate against LGBTQ students and staff. Under SSB 3206, these schools would have access to public funds through “an education savings grant program”. An Iowa Senate Appropriations subcommittee advanced the bill to full committee on Thursday morning.
“The number of private K-12 schools in this state with discriminatory policies directly targeting LGBTQ students and staff is staggering,” One Iowa Action Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. “Our research revealed that 97 percent of Iowa private K-12 schools are religiously affiliated, and these institutions have the right to conduct business according to their beliefs. However, they cannot receive taxpayer dollars and continue to be allowed to discriminate.”
“SSB 3206 would allow these schools to receive taxpayer dollars while retaining their exemption from portions of the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” Hoffman-Zinnel continued. “This would put students and staff at risk of publicly subsidized discrimination based not just on LGBTQ status, but religious belief, disability status, or socioeconomic status as well. This cannot be allowed to stand, and we call on the full Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee to put a stop to this bill.”
Eighty-eight percent of schools listed on the Iowa Department of Education’s 2017-2018 Iowa Non-Public School Building Directory have public policies available online. One Iowa Action analyzed these policies to collect and calculate this data.