Iowa schools record number of nonbinary students

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa has joined the list of 17 other states that will record the number of students in their districts that identify as nonbinary.

On the surface, this will simply be added to the board of education’s data collection. To many students, it means so much more.

Keenan Crow with One Iowa can speak on behalf of many students in Iowa when they say that this change is a massive step in the right direction.

“It means finally being able to accurately represent the identities of those students and not simply pretending they are something that they’re not,” they said.

As a part of this protocol from the Iowa Department of Education, when parents are registering their children for school, they have the option to check male, female, or nonbinary.

The data collected by the Iowa Department of Education is used to support education research that helps better serve students of all backgrounds.

“We can finally actually get some information about health outcomes, educational outcomes, things like that so that we can find if there are issues with that group of students and actually start addressing those problems,” said Crow.

This isn’t a new procedure for all school districts.

Iowa City and Cedar Rapids Schools are just two districts that have already made this information voluntarily available.

For the schools that are just now adding this option, Crow admits there is concern over those who might think students will identify as nonbinary as a part of a fad, or a phase.

“Because the numbers are going to look to a layperson as if they’re artificially inflated,” they said. “But when you stop suppressing and you actually allow people to be who they are and create spaces that are safe enough for them to come out, then you get to the level that it should have been before even though it might look like artificial inflation.”

Adding this data is still an option nationwide, not a requirement. But Iowa has joined a number of other states including California, New Jersey and Virginia that give families choices beyond male and female for students’ gender.

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