DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — Parents’ rights have been a familiar theme during discussions at the Iowa legislature this session. But leaders of both major political parties contend that they are looking out for parents’ rights. The disagreements demonstrate the parties’ different philosophies when it comes to those rights.

Among the topics of disagreement:

  • Restricting access to books at school libraries if some parents find the content obscene or objectionable.
  • Requiring transgender students to use the bathroom for the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate, rather than according to the gender with which they identify.
  • Requiring the district to notify parents/guardians if students identify with a gender not assigned on their birth certificate.

House Speaker Pat Grassley, a New Hartford Republican, said that parents are paying more attention to education after the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to learn remotely for several months. And he believes that his party is making sure that parents determine what is best for their child’s education. “We want to make sure the parents understand what’s going on with their student. I don’t see how we should have a system where school districts feel that is what’s best for the student in keeping that information from the parents.”

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, a Windsor Heights Democrat, said that Republicans are punishing vulnerable Iowans and are following the lead of what Republicans are trying to do in other states. “It is part of a national playbook that is happening all across the country and they’re just repeating the same bills, the same talking points that other states are.”