What more could Governor Reynolds and Iowa Republicans do to make Iowa less attractive to businesses and students? Under their stewardship Iowa has, according to data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and S&P Global Market Intelligence, dropped in rank in infrastructure, workforce, access to capital, education, economics, and even “business friendliness.”
They’ve lowered corporate taxes, but that’s like Elmer Fudd dangling a carrot off the end of his shotgun. And just like Bugs Bunny, businesses seeking locations see through that ruse. Major companies are looking for the qualities created from better education, strong workforce, and advanced infrastructure. The things those tax dollars pay for.
Now Reynolds has signed a bill to prohibit transgender women and girls from competing on school teams that correspond with their gender identity. There are many people applauding her soundbite “This is a victory for girls’ sports in Iowa,” but that, too, is a rhetorical ruse. A ruse to justify discrimination.
Supporters of the bill cry victory, but what I hear are the voices of young people who have already suffered enough from being misunderstood, chastised and set apart.
On average, nationwide (Iowa is less), one person per school identifies as transgender and also participates in sports. Even if that number grows it isn’t an invasion of transgender behemoth gladiators as this panic-legislation suggests. Youth sports are about belonging, well-being and socialization and those should be our guiding principles.
And we should be concerned that over a third of transgender youth have considered suicide. Have we really decided that ribbons are a higher priority than young lives?
High school trackstar Ashley Keeney said: “I’d rather race with transgender athletes and possibly be beaten than know that there are people who wish they could be out there running with me and they’re not.”
Adults: Take notes. Students seek diversity and every generation steps closer to the logic of inclusion. That is the foundation of peace and that’s the reality where most want to pursue their education, their vocations, and their lives.
Iowa once moved in the direction of enlightened civil rights and toward building the best educational system. At least until an antiquated populism conquered Iowa and created a new political landscape.
In this landscape, Charles Grassley, who once had the courage to challenge party lines has become a lock-step partisan. A far right white nationalist named Steve King opens his mouth too often, and Reynolds and company took the reigns to proliferate guns, under-fund public education, pander to corporations, and now publicly alienate specific young people trying to be accepted.
Today we are faced with an international crisis that is also a new landscape. Nuclear weapons have been around nearly 80 years, but now they are our concern of an unimaginable war. I, for one, will be vocal with support for Ukraine, but what is actually under our individual control?
What we can control is right here; in our cities and in our state.What we do here effects change that reverberates outward.
We can lead our state back to understanding the value of justice, civil rights, and genuine fairness. We could get back on the path of progress and off Reynolds’ path of regression.