- Iowa state law requires the teaching of sexuality education, though curricula are not required to be comprehensive, nor is it required to include instruction on consent. It must, however, be medically accurate.
- All sex ed instruction must be free of bias based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender.
- SF 496 was enacted in 2023. It requires parental permission for students to participate in Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. It prohibits any instruction or programming related to gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-6th grade. It strikes the requirement for schools to teach about AIDS and HPV. It requires schools to develop a K-12 library program that only contains “age appropriate materials” aligned with the achievement goals of state. It defines “age appropriate” as not having any mention or reference to a “sex act.” And it requires curriculum transparence procedures.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from any part of health education courses if the course conflicts with the student’s religious beliefs. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Iowa Code 256.11 mandates that research-based, age-appropriate health education be taught in grades K–12, and must include information on communicable diseases.
- Iowa provides the Iowa Core: K-12 21st Century Skills as guidance for curricula development. The only mention of sexual health in the standards is for students to be able to “describe the interrelationships of the wellness dimensions: physical, emotional, intellectual, environmental, social, sexual, and spiritual wellness during adolescence.”
Bills to Watch
- HF 361 was introduced in 2023. It would prohibit the dissemination of “obscene materials” in schools and create actions to determine what is considered “obscene.”
- SF 81 was introduced in 2023. It would prohibit schools and higher ed institutions from instructing or promoting “divisive concepts.”
- HB 486 was introduced in 2023. It would establish fundamental parental rights.
- HF 480 was introduced in 2023. It would add the instruction of inclusive human sexuality and effectiveness of contraceptive methods such as condoms, contraceptive implants, and IUDs to the human growth and development curriculum.
- HSB 222 was introduced in 2023. It would require lessons on human growth and development to be age appropriate and research based, remove any mention of AIDS and HPV from lessons, restrict human sexuality instruction to grades 4-12, remove lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity, establish parental rights in education, and more.
- HF 348 passed the House in 2023, and now moves onto the Senate. It would prohibit instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-6, prohibit human growth and development instruction in grades nK-6 from including any material or survey or program related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and would add protection and the coverage of legal fees for any schools that faced a civil action suit for implementing this.
- HF 620 was introduced (under a different number), in 2023, was approved by committee, and now moves onto the House. It would prohibit schools from taking disciplinary action against students and employees who use the “legal” name of a student or employee or refuse to use their preferred pronouns.
- SF 159 was introduced in 2023. It would require human growth and development instruction to be “age appropriate and research-based.” This instruction would include information on human sexuality, self-esteem, stress management, interpersonal relationships, domestic abuse, HPV and the availability of a vaccine to prevent HPV, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It would prohibit instruction and any surveys on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-8.
- SF 83 was introduced in 2023. It would prohibit instruction on gender identity from grades K-8.
- SF 66 was introduced in 2023. It would require health education in grades K-6 to include identifying parts of the body, to be age-appropriate and research-based, and to cover empathy and respecting boundaries. It would require health education in grades 7-12 to cover consent and sexual violence prevention.
Some Sex Ed Advocates Within the State
For more detailed information on how various districts in the state have been implementing these standards — and for recent legislation — you can read SIECUS’s Iowa profile.