Wednesday, March 17, 2021

House GOP votes to ban gender or racial stereotyping in diversity training

(Radio Iowa) - Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to forbid introducing what the bill calls "divisive concepts" like gender or race-based stereotypes in diversity training for staff and students at most publicly-funded institutions in the state. The bill would bar public schools and universities as well as any state or local government agency from having diversity training that suggests the United States or the State of Iowa is fundamentally racist. Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison was the bill's floor manager.

"I believe that teaching or applying a certain characteristic to a certain group of people based on color is the very definition of racism," Holt says, "and the way I was raised, that's unAmerican."

Represenative Henry Stone, a Republican from Forest City, is an Asian American who told his colleagues he's been called every racial slur you could imagine, but Stone says he does not believe there is systemic racism in the United States or in Iowa.

"I wholeheartedly support this bill because I believe that diversity training should still go on," Stone said, "but we need to change the way that it's taught."

Republican Representative Mark Cisneros of Muscatine says he objects to diversity training that promotes victimhood.

"We have evidence of the ill effects of it," Cisneros says. "Tearing down statutes or attempting to, demanding that white people apologize for their whiteness, yelling at people in public."

All the Democrats present in the House on Tuesday night voted against the bill. Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the bill impedes an open discussion about racism.

"I love America and in loving America, we have a right to criticize America...and this bill is not going to deal with the ills of America," he said.

Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the bill goes too far in dictating what topics cannot be introduced in diversity discussions.

"If the teachers and trainers cannot identify the evil, the root of the problem...how are we going to solve it?" she asked.

Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, accused Republicans of trying to cancel reality.

"Closing our eyes and trying to pretend that if we don't say, 'implicit bias,' it doesn't exist," Wolfe said, "or if we don't say 'systemic racism,' we can pretend we don't have that."

The House debated the bill for about four hours before passing it at about 7:15 Tuesday night. The proposal now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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