Youth Law

Anti-Bullying Laws
Iowa Code §280.28

(1) Enumerated Categories in Law
Iowa Code §280.28(2)(c)
There are 17 enumerated categories that are protected from bullying and harassment in schools, specifically including gender identity and sexual orientation.

(2) Enumerated Model Policy
Iowa Code § 280.28(3)
Iowa Code § 280.28(3) requires adoption and distribution of an anti-bullying policy by school and schools boards. The Code contains an enumerated model policy listing the following components as minimum requirements for an anti-bullying/harassment policy to be valid:

  • Anyone on school campus will not engage in bullying or harassment
  • Anyone on school campus will not engage in retaliation or false accusations against anyone with reliable information about an incident of bullying or harassment
  • A clear definition of bullying and harassment
  • Clear expectations and guidelines of prevention measures, reporting, and investigating bullying and harassment
  • Clear explanation of consequences of anyone violating the anti-bullying and harassment policy
  • Procedure for reporting harassment or bullying, including a job title of the school official who is in charge of ensuring the anti-bullying and harassment policies is implemented, and the name or job title of the official responsible for receiving reports of bullying and harassment
  • A clear protocol for prompt investigation, and identifying the individual responsible for conducting objective investigations
  • A statement of how the policy is publicized

(3) Alternative Discipline
Iowa Code § 280.28(4)
Alternative Discipline includes forms of discipline that focus on educating the offending party, prevention training, and support for victims. While there is no law or policy in Iowa requiring that a school have alternative disciplinary measures in place, Iowa Code § 280.28(4) does encourage schools to focus on prevention training and skills building if they are financially able to.

(4) Cyberbullying
Iowa Code § 280.28(2)
Iowa Code § 280.28(2)(b), which defines “bullying” and “harassment,” explicitly includes “electronic” conduct. “Electronic” under § 280.28(2)(a) “includes but is not limited to communication via electronic mail, internet-based communications, pager service, cell phones, and electronic text messaging.”

Transgender Inclusion in Sports
Iowa Code § 216.9(1)
Iowa High School Athletic Association Transgender Guidelines
There is no specific law on transgender inclusion in sports. Discrimination by an educational institution on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited by Iowa Code § 216.9(1). An exception is made for athletic programs in § 216.9(1)(a), but § 216.9(1)(b) expressly forbids “denial of comparable opportunity in intramural and interscholastic athletic programs.” This suggests that a school would be permitted to prevent an LGBT student from joining a specific team, as long as there is another team playing the same sport which the student can join. The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s “Transgender Guidelines” provide guidance for respectful treatment and accommodation of transgender student athletes.

Protection from Conversion Therapy
There are currently no laws or court cases regarding conversion therapy in Iowa.

Laws to Address LGBT Youth Homelessness
There are no Iowa laws which specifically address LGBT homelessness, but a few that address assistance to homeless youth and adults. The Iowa Finance Authority is to appropriate no less than $546,000 per year for homeless shelter assistance [Iowa Code §16.41(1-2)]. In addition the law allows, but does not require, each county to create a runaway treatment plan and assessment center to address problems with chronic runaway children in the county [Iowa Code §232.195, §232.196(1)]. Finally, the Department of Education is required to facilitate access to education free of stigmatization for homeless youth [Iowa Administrative Code § 281.33].

LGBT Inclusive Sex Education Laws
Iowa Code § 279.50
Iowa Code § 279.50(2) mandates that “age-appropriate and research-based” health and human sexuality education be provided to every student in grades 1 through 12, including education on HPV, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, domestic abuse, and HIV. § 279.50(9)(d)(2) defines “research-based” as “information that is free of racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender biases.”

LGBT Inclusive Juvenile Justice Policies
Iowa Code § 19B.12(2)
Iowa has no laws addressing discrimination against LGBT individuals or discrimination in the juvenile justice system. The only protection prohibits discrimination or harassment by a state employee of a person in their custody on the basis of sex [Iowa Code § 19B.12(2)].

School Laws That Criminalize Youth
A school law that criminalizes youth may include phrases like “zero-tolerance.” The Iowa Code does not require schools to implement a policy like this. The current law states that schools must have a policy in place that addresses bullying, however the form of consequence is left to the discretion of the official appointed as the liaison that investigates and enforces the policy. Because of this, some schools in Iowa have a policy that is labeled “zero-tolerance” and some do not. There has been research stating that policies focusing on redirection, prevention, and education are more effective than policies that focus on harsh punishment.

Laws that Restrict Inclusion of LGBT Topics in Schools
There are no laws that prohibit discussion of LGBT topics in schools; in addition discrimination is prohibited by an educational institution based on sexual orientation and gender identity [Iowa Code §216.9 (1)]. When states do have laws restricting LGBT topics in schools they are usually applied to sex education policies, where Iowa requires programs free of sexual orientation and gender biases [Iowa Code § 279.50(9)(d)(2)].