North Dakota Governor Bans Pronoun Policies in Schools

And compels teachers to tell parents if students identify as transgender
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2023 1:40 AM CDT
North Dakota Governor Bans Pronoun Policies in Schools
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at the state Capitol on April 10, 2020, in Bismarck, ND.   (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a bill that prohibits public schools and government entities from requiring teachers and employees to refer to transgender people by the pronouns they use, the governor's office announced Monday. The new law also requires teachers to tell a parent or legal guardian if the student identifies as transgender. It prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice without prior approval from a parent or guardian. It is effective immediately, the AP reports.

Burgum said in a statement that the new law “largely codifies existing practices while reaffirming the First Amendment right to free speech ... balancing the rights and interests of students, parents, and teachers." Opponents countered that the state's Republican leaders are violating the constitutional rights of students and teachers by compelling the speech of adults and potentially exposing children to dangerous repercussions if an abusive parent doesn't approve.

“Mandatory outing of a student’s trans identity violates their privacy rights at school— particularly for trans youth who cannot be safe at home. And creating a supportive working and learning environment also requires treating people with dignity and respect, including—at a minimum—calling them by the name and pronouns they want to use. These are both unlawful and discriminatory practices,” said Cody Schuler, advocacy manager of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota.

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Other new North Dakota laws prohibit transgender girls and women from joining female sports teams, from K-12 through college. They criminalize health care providers who give gender-affirming care to minors. And they limit transgender children and adults in accessing the bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of their choice, from schools to state-run colleges and correctional facilities.

(More North Dakota stories.)

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