Branstad won't request his title be removed from bullying event
Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that he will not ask that his title be removed from the “Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.”
“I believe in treating everybody with respect and dignity, and certainly we want to make sure that nobody is bullied,” Branstad said.
LGBTQ stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning.”
The conference is the premier event hosted by Iowa Safe Schools, an organization with a mission to protect children and stop bullying, which can lead to poor school performance, increased dropout rates and child suicide.
Danny Carroll of the Family Leader, a socially conservative group based in Pleasant Hill, wrote in a legislative report last week that the governor had informed Family Leader staff that he had asked that the word “Governor’s” be removed from the event.
But the event’s organizers said no such request had been made and that the governor’s staff had been working with them on a proclamation against bullying.
Carroll said he got the information from Todd Schulz, an administrative assistant for Branstad.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht declined to comment on the issue last week or confirm whether what was reported by the Family Leader was accurate.
The lack of response prompted groups like One Iowa, a civil rights organization, and Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Iowa, to urge Branstad to clarify his position.
Reporters Monday asked Branstad about the issue during a news conference.
Branstad said that he won’t be attending the event because of a scheduling conflict but that he supports its general goal.
Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, issued a statement thanking Branstad for “sticking up for Iowa’s LGBTQ youth.”
“This governor’s conference is truly a bipartisan event that seeks to eliminate bullying, harassment and suicide risks among these youth,” Monson said. “I’m thrilled the governor understands this need, and we hope to keep working with his administration to protect all kids from bullies, no matter if they are gay, straight, black, white, Latino or who just look different.”
Dvorsky released a statement saying Branstad “has done the right thing” by reaffirming support for the event.
The event begins at 9 a.m. March 8 at Drake University’s Olmsted Center.