North Dakota Bans Preferred Pronouns Policies, Strengthens Parental Rights

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
May 9, 2023Politics
North Dakota Bans Preferred Pronouns Policies, Strengthens Parental Rights
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum holds a press conference announcing plans for the clean up of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp in Mandan, N.D., on Feb. 22, 2017. (Stephen Yang/Getty Images)

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill on Monday that will allow teachers, school officials, and government entities to ignore a student’s preferred pronoun and ban hiding a student’s transgender status from their parents.

House Bill 1522 (pdf) was approved by North Dakota lawmakers with a veto-proof majority of 40–6 in the Senate and 68–22 in the House. The law came into effect immediately.

The legislation consists of three sections that modify the North Dakota Century Code in relation to preferred pronouns, restroom provisions for transgender students, establishing a penalty for violations, and declaring an emergency.

The governor vetoed a similar bill in March, citing “concerning language,” but said on Monday that this had been removed.

“House Bill 1522 largely codifies existing practices while reaffirming the First Amendment right to free speech, requiring restroom accommodations, balancing the rights and interests of students, parents and teachers, and not including the concerning language from the previously vetoed and sustained SB 2231,” Burgum said.

Last month, Burgum vetoed a separate bill that would have enabled teachers to disregard the preferred pronouns of their transgender students. Although the Senate voted to override the veto, the House eventually opted to maintain it. Several days later, the Senate reintroduced the proposal and incorporated the pronoun-related language from the prior bill into the new bill that passed both legislative chambers this week.

The bill’s passage is seen as a win for supporters of strengthening parental rights in schools and for upholding biological truths and protecting girls in restrooms.

Opponents of the bill have spoken against the measures requiring parents and guardians to be consulted by teachers about the transgender status their children are presenting in school. They have framed this as forcing teachers to “out” LGBT students to parents or guardians who may not be approving.

The Bill

Under the new legislation, teachers and school officials in North Dakota will be obligated to seek input from a student’s parents or legal guardians regarding their preferred pronouns or any accommodations made for transgender students, such as the use of a separate restroom.

The new North Dakota law also prohibits students from utilizing a restroom that does not correspond to their biological sex. School officials will also be banned from adopting any policies “concerning a particular student’s transgender status” without consulting their parents or guardians.

Moreover, the new legislation prohibits a school board, public school, or public school teacher from adopting a policy that mandates or forbids the use of a student’s preferred gender pronoun.

Teachers and school officials will be banned from hiding a student’s transgender status from their parents or guardians, and the bill mandates that schools cannot require or prohibit the use of a student’s preferred pronoun.

The law also bans government entities from adopting policies that require or prohibit the use of an individual’s preferred pronoun or the designation of an employee’s preferred pronoun in work-related communications unless required by law.

The bill also allows individuals to assert a violation of this law as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and recover appropriate relief, including reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

An earlier version of the bill included a provision, not present in the enrolled version, banning school district boards from making accommodations for students who perceived themselves to be an “animal species.”

Opponents Criticize Bill

The requirement that students use restrooms that coincide with their biological sex and the ban on creating policies to force teachers to use a student’s preferred pronouns are also issues of contention for the legislation’s opponents.

“No matter how lawmakers try to spin it, this bill wasn’t really motivated by privacy or safety concerns or even the rights of parents. It was motivated by ignorance, misinformation, and a fear of transgender North Dakotans,” said the ACLU of North Dakota.

A spokesman for the organization, Cody Schuler, doesn’t believe it infringes on anyone’s rights if boys and girls are forced to share restrooms with a person of the opposite gender who identifies as transgender.

“Like previous efforts to expel people of color, people with disabilities, and others from communal spaces, these arguments for privacy and safety just mask a fear of difference,” Schuler said.

North Dakota Defines Men and Women

Last month, North Dakota passed legislation making it the fourth state to criminalize providing sex change surgeries to minors. Additionally, it joined 20 other states in prohibiting biological males who identify as females from participating in sports teams with biological females.

The governor has approved two additional bills concerning transgender issues that will come into effect in August.

House Bill 1474 aims to define “male” and “female” in state law as determined by one’s sex at birth, which supporters argue reflects biological reality. Opponents claim that this law eliminates transgender individuals from data collection.

The second additional bill, House Bill 1297, prohibits the alteration of sex designation on birth records for reasons related to gender identity, except for certain situations, such as a data entry error or if a medical professional certifies that the individual’s genitalia corresponds to their identified sex.

Other gender-related bills Burgum signed this month include measures that prohibit transgender children and adults from using bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers in dormitories of state-run colleges and correctional facilities that don’t align with their biological sex.

Republican lawmakers across America have taken steps to limit policies they see as indoctrinating children with leftist and LGBT ideology.

Roughly 21 states have implemented legislation that the GOP frames as protecting the integrity of female sports by banning transgender athletes, while around 14 states have placed restrictions on providing life-altering sex change surgeries and hormone treatments to minors.

Moreover, at least eight states have enacted legislation prohibiting transgender individuals from using restrooms that align with their gender identities.

From The Epoch Times

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