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Lawsuit seeks to overturn Iowa's ban on books with sexual, LGBTQ content

The law is a violation of the First Amendment, the ACLU said.

Published: November 28, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) - Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa are seeking to overturn an Iowa law that bans books with sexual or LGBTQ content.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court on behalf of Iowa Safe Schools, a nonprofit organization that supports LGBTQ youth, also challenges a portion of the law that requires school officials to tell parents if their children ask to be addressed by certain pronouns.

Seven families are part of the lawsuit. Belinda Scarrott, whose child is transgender, called the law cruel.

"Prior to the passage of SF 496, school already presented difficulties for him that are not faced by cisgender, straight children," Scarrott said in a news release from Lambda and the ACLU.

The law is a violation of the First Amendment, the ACLU said.

"The First Amendment does not allow our state or our schools to remove books or issue blanket bans on discussion and materials simply because a group of politicians or parents find them offensive," said ACLU attorney Thomas Story. "This law is deeply confusing and schools have been at a loss on how to comply, even after consulting with their attorneys."

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare SF 496 unconstitutional and stop it from being enforced.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the bill banning what she called "pornography and sexually explicit content" should not be controversial.

"The real controversy is that it exists in elementary schools. Books with graphic depictions of sex acts have absolutely no place in our schools," Reynolds said. "If these books were movies, they’d be rated R. The media cannot even air or print excerpts from these books because the content is offensive and inappropriate, yet they promote the narrative that they’re good for kids.”

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