DES MOINES - Conservative state lawmakers threatened Thursday to withhold state funding for an Iowa community college if the school spends tax dollars on a conference for gay youths.
The Des Moines Register reported that 16 Republican lawmakers released a statement threatening to vote down funding for the Des Moines Area Community College, which sponsors the Iowa Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth.
Over 600 students and educators typically attend the conference, which seeks to end bullying of gay, lesbian and transgender students. But legislators say the event uses taxpayer dollars to encourage dangerous behaviors that distort Bible teachings.
Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, says by signing the statement, those lawmakers have agreed to propose amendments to the state education budget blocking funding for DMACC.
"This is not a proper use of taxpayer funds," he said.
Guth hopes that the Republican majority in the House will have enough power to push such a measure.
"We cannot in good conscience vote to give taxpayer dollars to people or groups who pervert the Bible, teach our youth to engage in dangerous behavior," the statement said.
It's signed by Sens. David Johnson, Mark Segebart, Mark Chelgren, Dennis Guth, Bill Anderson, Kent Sorenson and Rick Bertrand; and Reps. Dwayne Alons, Greg Heartsill, Dean Fisher, Robert Bacon, Tom Shaw, Jason Schultz, Larry Sheets, Ralph Watts and Sandy Salmon.
The Family Leader, a conservative Christian group, called upon Gov. Terry Branstad Thursday to remove his title from the conference, though it was started by Gov. Tom Vilsack. They made a similar request of Branstad last March and he issued a statement on his website reaffirming his support for the conference.
Chuck Hurley, vice president of the group, said Thursday the conference uses "evil propaganda" on children.
"Stop twisting the Bible and stop using our tax dollars to do it," he said.
The conference is set for April 3 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.