Students and staff are currently enjoying their annual holiday break. But next week, students will begrudgingly return to class. But teachers and school administrators will return too, and they'll be facing possible punishment from the state starting January 1st.

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Republicans passed Senate File 496 last year, with Governor Reynolds signing it into law. The new law bans almost all books with sex acts from schools and forbids any curriculum involving sexual orientation through sixth grade. Some districts have interpreted the law to include banning any children's book with LGBTQ themes and characters in younger grades. The Register reports that while the state still grapples with how schools will follow the new law, penalties for teachers go into effect as of January 1st.

Stack of books in a library, Stockholm, Sweden
Keith Levit

So what will penalties for Iowa teachers look like who violate the new law on banned materials? The Register reports that teachers and administrators who fail to remove books with sex acts would receive a written reprimand. Future violations could then lead to a hearing before the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and disciplinary action. Proposed rules under Senate File 496 would give educators a chance to avoid action by removing the book in question.

The Register reports that the new laws are being challenged in court. Iowa officials currently face two federal lawsuits that contend the state violates the U.S. Constitution, saying that Senate File 496 discriminates against LGBTQ students and violates their rights to free speech, free association, equal protection, and due process.

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