By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio
Some advocates say they will be celebrating for two reasons during this year’s Pride Month. One is the celebration of diversity and identity, while the other is more specific to Iowa.
The past legislative session at the Iowa Capitol resulted in 15 bills many advocates labeled as anti-LGBTQ. Crow also included the request for legislation by Gov. Kim Reynolds restricting transgender students playing some sports as a 16th proposal. This was an Iowa and a national record at one point, said Keenan Crow.
Crow, who uses they/them pronouns, serves as the director of policy and advocacy at One Iowa. The organization advocates for the LGBTQ community in the state.
Part of their job is being up to date on legislation, so they followed the 16 proposals throughout the session. They said they’re going to celebrate Pride Month a little differently this year.
“I will be doing a little bit more celebrating on that side of things. That none of those were able to pass, it was a lot of hard work, making sure that that those rights were protected,” Crow said.
None of the bills nor the governor’s request became law. The same goes for many bills introduced last year, according to Crow.
“And so that does tend to give an indicator that the majority of legislators, regardless of their party, probably are not on board with this agenda of discrimination and exclusion. And that I think that is something that we can celebrate,” Crow said.
They said they expect many similar bills for next session, so their celebrations are just a bit tentative. Every time a bill that targets LGBTQ people gets introduced, Crow said it negatively affects the children who identify within the LGBTQ community and can even increase suicide rates.
They’re also keeping an eye on legislation that will disproportionately impact LGBTQ people, such as enhancing the penalties for protest-related incidents.
Crow also urged Iowans to remember the history of how Pride Month came to be and to continue making the state more inclusive. The conversation about LGBTQ rights, they said, is not just “one and done” during the month of June, rather a “year long commitment to improving our communities.”
They referenced the Stonewall riots as something more people should remember while commemorating Pride Month. Crow credited that point in history as the birth of celebrating Pride Month.
With President Joe Biden in the White House, Crow said there have been friendlier and more welcoming conversations around and to the LGBTQ community.
“With Biden administration, we see proactive efforts to secure the rights of LGBTQ Americans. And we appreciate that,” Crow said. “And so the way to continue to honor that is to push against this kind of legislation that increases the potential for police violence, decreases the liability for police, increases penalties for protesters, etc. That’s all completely against the spirit of Pride.”
Pride Month is the entire month of June. Multiple organizations across the state have organized events, including Capital City Pride’s ’30 Days of Pride,’ to celebrate.