Iowa’s discrimination bans help put LGBT community at ease

Morgan Kelly

Those who identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning community can take a bit of ease in knowing Iowa bans discrimination based on gender identity. 

Iowa is one of 19 states to adopt policies that protect people from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity, according to

Three states have adopted a state-wide employment non-discrimination law that covers only sexual orientation and not gender identity: New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin.

Gender is different from sex in that gender is a social construction of roles, appearances as it relates to “masculinity” and “femininity.” According to IMPACT, an LGBT health and development program at Northwestern University, there are more than 40 terms used to describe or identify gender. Gender identity is how someone chooses to identify themself. 

Melissa Mundt, assistant city manager, said Iowa, as a whole, is further along than some of the surrounding states and that’s something to be proud of.

South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri don’t have protective policies for gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination, and Wisconsin only protects people based on their sexual orientation, according to

“There are 37 states that have legalized marriage, but only 18, plus D.C., have nondiscrimination policies to protect those same-sex partners. That means there is an overlap of 16 states where you can get married and then get fired the next day for being gay,” said Adam Guenther, president of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Ally Alliance.

While Ames and Iowa State have their own set of policies, Nicci Port, Iowa State University’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender faculty and staff association chairperson, said they just reiterate what the state’s policies say.

ISU policies match the state’s for a reason, Mundt said. Civil rights cases can be dealt with in Ames or taken to the state level.

“If Ames had stricter policies and a civil rights complaint came to the office, the state couldn’t take it on depending on the case,” Mundt said.

Therefore, the policies should match up.

“It really depends on how many investigators are available and if they feel they have the right skill set for the job. It all depends case by case,” Mundt said.

Port said she has always been lucky and hasn’t had to overcome any hurdles when it came to looking for employment or buying property in Iowa.

“My wife and I were able to buy a house in Gilbert, with no issues getting a loan or a realtor,” she said. “We did disclose that we were a same-sex couple because we don’t want to give our money to them. If they have a problem, we will go somewhere else.”

Guenther said he was able to apply for campus jobs without worrying he wouldn’t get hired because he was the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Ally Alliance president.

“Without these policies, I might have some hesitation in doing that, or maybe I wouldn’t be able to put [my presidency] on [my resume] at all,” Guenther said.

It puts his mind at ease, he said.

“I am able to be out and not worry about harassment or [being] discriminated against just because I’m gay,” Guenther said.