Advocates gather at ‘We Won’t Go Back’ sit-in to protest anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Cedar Rapids in protest of nearly 30 bills introduced into the Iowa state legislature they say will hurt LGBTQ people.
Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 7:43 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Over a hundred people gathered at Greene Square in downtown Cedar Rapids to protest the nearly 30 bills introduced at the Iowa Legislature they say will hurt LGBTQ+ people.

People were given a microphone to explain how these bills would impact them.

“Nobody should be afraid to be who they are,” said one speaker.

“I will not let somebody tell me who I can and cannot marry,” said another speaker.

RJ Chiavetta and Elliot Monroe organized the event after seeing the nearly 30 bills being discussed. Bills that would restrict bathroom use for transgender youth, ban same-sex marriage, and ban gender-related care for transgender youth. Care Chiavetta, a transgender man, said that health care is lifesaving.

“I wouldn’t be here today if I couldn’t be RJ Chiavetta,” Chiavetta said. “If I wasn’t able to be me, I wouldn’t be here.”

Chiavetta worried that same care wouldn’t be available for other transgender youth, especially with one bill now waiting on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature.

“They’re going to have to suffer until they are 18 if they make it to 18,” Chiavetta said. “That breaks my heart, honestly.”

For Elliot, hosting the event was about Senate File 496, which would require teachers to tell parents if a student expressed a gender identity different than the one listed on their birth certificate.

“It was a teacher that came to me and said it was OK to be who you are,” Elliot said. “Now those teachers are going to be required to say ‘hey, your kid’s gay’. You don’t know their home.”

By hosting the sit-in and telling their stories, they hope lawmakers see the impacts of these bills.

“Look how many people you’re affecting, how many people are out here, and how many people are part of the community,” Elliot said. “The government has no business coming after hundreds of people.”