Governor of North Dakota enacts legislation prohibiting pronoun policies

On Monday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed a controversial bill, House Bill 1522, which allows the misgendering of transgender students and government employees.

The legislation also requires teachers to inform parents of their child’s transgender status and permits schools to prevent students from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

The new law is part of a broader Republican legislative effort to restrict the rights of LGBTQ individuals across the country. Governor Burgum has already signed several other bills this year that limit the rights of transgender North Dakotans.

Effective immediately, House Bill 1522 prohibits government entities and schools from adopting policies that either require or prohibit the use of a student’s or colleague’s preferred gender pronoun.

The bill was passed by the state’s Republican-majority House and Senate in mid-February and early March, respectively.

The newly signed bill in North Dakota allows schools to forbid transgender students from using restrooms that align with their gender identity but permits them to use a separate restroom if their parent or legal guardian approves.

The legislation also mandates that teachers cannot withhold information from parents regarding their child’s transgender status.

While Governor Burgum had previously vetoed similar legislation, he signed this bill after it passed through the Republican majority House and Senate.

The bill’s supporters claim that it protects parental rights and freedom of speech, while its opponents view it as another discriminatory action against transgender youth.

According to Cody Schuler, advocacy manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, these arguments are similar to those made in previous attempts to exclude people of color, people with disabilities, and others from shared spaces, and are based on fear of differences.

In addition to the recent House Bill 1522, Governor Burgum had already signed a bill in April that prohibited most transgender minors from receiving medical and surgical gender-affirming care and also barred transgender student-athletes from playing on teams designated for girls and women.

The ACLU reports that North Dakota has enacted eight laws this year that impact the rights of LGBTQ residents. However, the organization is currently tracking 474 bills across the country that it considers to be anti-LGBTQ.

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