LE CLAIRE, Iowa — The president of the Iowa State Senate could not have been clearer.
"The attack on our children is no longer hidden," said Republican Sen. Jake Chapman in his opening remarks to the 2022 Iowa legislative session. "Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before."
The Senate's top Republican is referring to books found in public school libraries and among assigned reading lists that has some parents calling for reforms. Including Sen. Chapman.
"One doesn't have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes," she said.
Republican State Sen. Chris Cournoyer of LeClaire, who had been president of the Pleasant Valley School Board before elected to state office, said the Senate President's opinions are his own.
"My first reaction to Sen. Chapman's comments were that they were pretty bold and they were pretty aggressive," she said on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens."
"Sen. Chapman speaks for Sen. Chapman, he doesn't speak for the rest of us," she added.
The Senate President's call to file obscenity charges against some public school teachers resulted in a strong rebuke from the state's teachers union.
"Sen. Chapman owes all Iowans an apology for his attempt at dividing us with cheap, angry and untruthful rhetoric," Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said. "In my more than 34 years as a public education employee, I have witnessed countless selfless acts by my colleagues. Not once have I witnessed so-called sinister acts."
Some books recently challenged include "Hey Kiddo," a graphic novel focusing on a boy whose part of an opioid-addicted family, and "This," an LGBTQ book a Waukee Northwest High School parent said was inappropriate.
State Sen. Cournoyer said she understands parent's concerns.
"If it's not appropriate for the paper or the local news, I'm not sure how it's appropriate to being a K-12 public school library," Cournoyer said.
But she said the state already has laws on the books about disseminating obscene materials.
But the issue of books in public schools is expected to be on the Senate's agenda this session, even getting the attention this week from the governor.
"We live in a free country with free expression," said Gov. Kim Reynolds during her "Condition of the State" message to the legislature. "But there's a difference between shouting vulgarities from a street corner and assigning them as classroom reading."