LGBTQ people live, work and raise families in every U.S. state, including states hosting the first caucuses and primaries.
Campaign coverage should inform voters about the candidates and the LGBTQ issues they are campaigning on. Reporters must take extra care to be accurate and inclusive when reporting on conversations and proposals about marginalized people.
The safety of LGBTQ Americans and their ability to live free from discrimination are at stake.
LGBTQ Iowans: Context to Know and Report
- 3.6% of adult Iowans are LGBTQ, with 27% of them raising children.
- Iowa’s new “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law has resulted in the removal of 450 books from schools and libraries, and it banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity through 7th grade. In December, District Judge Stephen Locher struck down the book ban provision as “incredibly broad” and the instruction ban as “wildly overbroad.” Additional background from Lambda Legal, representing seven Iowa families and Iowa Safe Schools, describing the law as creating “a toxic and dangerous environment that puts students at risk of harm, bullying, violence, and even suicide.”
- Last November, Iowans overwhelmingly rejected school board candidates affiliated with book banning groups like Moms for Liberty.
- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, like her endorsee, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has proposed and signed multiple pieces of legislation targeting LGBTQ people and youth. Both governors have supported Moms for Liberty, which was identified as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in June 2023.
- The LGBTQ records of Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Donald Trump are documented on the GLAAD Accountability Project, which includes policies and proposals targeting LGBTQ Americans, and false and harmful rhetoric deployed. Trump has amassed more than 200 attacks in policy and rhetoric against LGBTQ Americans throughout his one-term presidency and 2024 campaign.
- The Biden-Harris administration’s LGBTQ record includes more than 320 appointments, nominations, statements and policies to include, support and protect LGBTQ people, as documented via GLAAD’s Biden Accountability Tracker.
Best Practices for Reporters
- Stories about or that mention LGBTQ people should include LGBTQ voices.
- In stories specifically about transgender people, seek and include a transgender person. GLAAD can connect you.
- Prioritize facts, expertise and LGBTQ lived experience over candidate and campaign opinion in your reporting. If a candidate remarks about LGBTQ people, always include facts and context. For example, any discussion of transgender health care must note this care is supported by every major medical association (30+ statements here). Additional resources below.
- Review and report a candidate’s LGBTQ record and support from anti-LGBTQ groups. Ongoing documentation is available on candidates, other public figures, and groups via the GLAAD Accountability Project.
- Avoid shorthand descriptions of political conversations about LGBTQ people as a “culture war debate.” This dehumanizes marginalized people as a “side” and allows politicians to escape accountability for creating and fueling the “war.” Descriptors like this add to voter apathy by alienating viewers and readers who find vaguely defined “culture wars” irrelevant to their lives. Focus reporting on the policies, consequences to all taxpayers and the people directly harmed, and the candidates proposing them and their LGBTQ history.
- Be factual and clear in your language: “(candidate name) has proposed policies restricting health care for transgender people, despite the fact this care is supported by every major medical association.”
- Do not repeat, or clearly state as false, “groomer” rhetoric. Experts in child abuse prevention have raised alarms that this rhetoric undermines understanding of actual child abuse and endangers innocent people and children.
- Include greater context: 500+ anti-LGBTQ bills were proposed in state legislatures through 2023. This is a broad scale, coordinated attack against LGBTQ Americans’ growing visibility and acceptance, via targeting health care, book bans, curriculum and conversation bans, sports bans, and bathroom bans. Inform your readers and viewers about this larger pattern of LGBTQ animus as you report on individual topics and bills and candidates supporting them. Note also how health care and drag ban bills have been blocked in multiple states and district courts as unconstitutional and discriminatory.
- Report connections between anti-LGBTQ incidents, rhetoric and extremism: In addition to the dramatic rise of anti-LGBTQ legislation, at least 700 attacks against LGBTQ people were documented through 2023, including murders, assault, harassment, and vandalism. The ADL Center on Extremism report notes increasing connections of anti-LGBTQ violence by people from extremist groups like Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Anti-LGBTQ posts on extremist media, further amplified on extremist cable programs, have been followed by bomb threats against children’s hospitals, libraries and schools, endangering and inconveniencing all students, families and residents in these communities.
- Report connections between anti-LGBTQ extremism and other extremism: states proposing bills targeting mainstream health care for transgender people have also enacted and proposed the most restrictive bans on abortion (including Florida), and denied and denigrated fair elections. Lawmakers in Iowa’s neighboring state, Nebraska, passed a bill both banning health care for transgender youth and abortion after 12 weeks. Texas lawmakers proposed more than 140 anti-LGBTQ bills last year as it also targeted women and health care providers over reproductive care and enforced draconian laws.
GALLUP: record high 71% support for marriage equality. Iowa’s extremist lawmakers proposed a ban on marriage equality in 2023. In 2009, Iowa became the third state and first outside the northeast to legalize same-sex marriage.
GLAAD: 84% support equal rights for LGBTQ people
GLAAD Media Reference Guide: terminology and 20+ topic areas to learn about and accurately report on LGBTQ people
Medical Association Statements Transgender Health Care: 30+ statements from every major medical association and world health authority, across specialties and patient lifespan, supporting health care for transgender people. Health care for transgender people is mainstream care with widely held consensus of both the medical and scientific communities.
Factsheet for Reporters Covering Transgender Health Care: what to know about transgender health care and how to responsibly include trans voices in your coverage.