An Iowa school district has flagged 374 books to review because they may violate a new state law that prohibits the teaching of gender identity to certain grades and prohibits material that depicts sex acts, according to the Des Moines Register.
In June, Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed SF 496 into law which prohibits lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation from K-6 school classrooms and requires educators to review all books and materials that may depict sex acts. Urbandale Community School District advised its teachers to remove the books it flagged from classrooms and libraries, including “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a memoir about the experience of a black queer boy growing up that displays graphic sexual encounters, and “Gender Queer,” a book depicting masturbation and oral sex, according to the Des Moines Register.
A district spokesperson told the outlet that all 374 books flagged are not present in the school’s libraries and that the list is guidance to teachers on what should be removed from the district’s system. If a book on the list is within a school district classroom, it should be removed, the district spokesperson told the Des Moines register.
In 2021, an Urbandale Community School District review committee voted to keep several sexually explicit books on its library shelves including “Lawn Boy,” which describes two 10-year-old boys engaging in oral sex, “Gender Queer” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” according to Local 5 News, a local outlet. The books, along with two others, were challenged by a parent who claimed the books contained vulgar, pornographic and racially insensitive material.
Other books that Urbandale Community School District flagged include “And Tango Makes Three,” a picture book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin, and “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish,” a children’s book detailing a drag queen’s performance, the Des Moines Register reported. The Urbandale Community School District’s list also names “Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg,” a book about the transportation secretary running as first openly gay candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and “Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History.”
Some controversial inclusions on the list were “1984” by George Orwell which describes sexual content, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood which has a few sexually explicit scenes, and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison whichdetails sexual assault, according to the Des Moines Register.
The Urbandale Community School District has received no guidance from the state on how to implement the state law within its classrooms, causing the district to create a list of its own, a district spokesperson told the Des Moines Register. Books that are removed from the school system will be stored in a central location or teachers will have the option to take them home.
Parents, school boards and lawmakers are pushing to remove sexually explicit content from the classroom; Utah’s largest school district removed 52 books in August 2022 for “inappropriate content” including “Gender Queer” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” At a Michigan school district, members of the Muslim community pushed back against the presence of pornographic books protesting with signs that read “Keep Your Dirty Books In The Closet.”
The Urbandale Community School District did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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