One Iowa

LGBTQ Families: Not a Threat to Anyone

Courtney Reyes (she/her) is the executive director of One Iowa.

Let me illustrate a scene for you: a home filled with warmth, laughter, and the innocent joy of a two-year-old surrounded by loved ones and cherished stuffed animals. It’s a picture-perfect moment that encapsulates the essence of our family. I hope everyone has the privilege of experiencing such pure happiness.

However, my family may differ slightly because I am married to a woman. Yet, this fact doesn’t diminish the sanctity of our family. While we should be relishing in the love of our children, my wife and I find ourselves grappling with the potential impact of this legislation on our lives and community.

This legislative session, over 40 bills have targeted the LGBTQ community, sending a chilling message: “You are not welcome here.”

It emboldens individuals to openly spew hate and grants them license to discriminate under the guise of legislative backing. Bills that seek to constrict the definition of family, imply that our non-traditional family structure is somehow less valid. But let me be unequivocal: regardless of how different our family may appear, we are an integral part of this state.

Our youngest may be oblivious to these legislative battles, but our older children are acutely aware that their government is attempting to dismantle their family unit. It’s a heartbreaking reality that I wish I could shield them from, but it’s the world they must navigate.

I shield them from the fear that grips us when unfamiliar faces enter our home – as two married women, uncertainty about our safety is always front of mind. I worry about the treatment our children receive from educators, uncertain if they’ll face prejudice or acceptance. These anxieties are but a glimpse into the myriad challenges LGBTQ individuals face daily.

Over the past five years, this legislature has poisoned the very fabric of our existence. LGBTQ individuals no longer feel safe in Iowa; fear has become our constant companion. All we yearn for is the simple ability to exist without fear of persecution from our government.

I know many harbor apprehensions about us, our children, or our queerness. However, let me dispel any misconceptions – we do not dwell on your family in our free time. I spend no time thinking about your family.

We are not a threat to your way of life.

We are merely fighting for our basic human rights, striving to create a nurturing environment where our children can flourish and thrive alongside their community. We seek acceptance, not animosity. We long to belong in a state that values diversity and champions equality for all its residents.