DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Iowa House lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday banning race and sex "scapegoating" and "stereotyping" training at state agencies, including the state's Regent universities.
House File 802 would also ban training and teachings that include "divisive concepts" at state agencies, public universities as well as Iowa's public K-12 schools. "Divisive concepts" include, but aren't limited to the following:
- That one race or sex is superior to another.
- That the U.S. and Iowa are fundamentally racist or sexist.
- That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist of sexist.
- That someone should be discriminated against because of their race or sex.
- That someone's moral character is determined by their race or sex.
- That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of that race or sex.
- That someone should feel psychological distress (like guilt) because of their race or sex.
The bill doesn't prohibit discussing divisive concepts as part of a larger course of academic instruction.
The bill defines "race or sex scapegoating" as, "assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex, or claiming that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of a persons’ race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others."
"Race or sex stereotyping" is defined as, "ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or belief to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex."
The bill is similar to an executive order issued last fall by President Trump, which has since been rescinded, that banned diversity training with race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating at institutions that get federal funding.
The bill would still allow training "that fosters a workplace and learning environment that is respectful of all employees and students."
The executive order signed by President Trump led to an issue within the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry, which in turn has been a heated topic of discussion during this legislative session. In that incident, College of Dentistry Dean David Johnsen sent an email to students saying the college was strongly against the executive order.
A student, Michael Brase hit "reply all" to the email, disagreeing with the college. He was then called in for a disciplinary hearing, which was eventually canceled. The whole situation led to a swift response by Republican lawmakers; claiming the university was denying free speech to students and was unethically taking a partisan stance.
The bill passed through the House by a 59-38 vote. It now heads to the Iowa Senate for approval.
Before passing HF 802, House lawmakers passed House File 744 which protects free speech for students at Iowa's K-12 schools and public universities, but limit speech for university administrators.