News (USA)

North Dakota’s GOP governor vetos anti-transgender pronoun bill

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum
Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum Photo: Office of the Governor

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) vetoed a bill that would’ve forbidden school districts from adopting any transgender-inclusive policies without first notifying parents. The bill would’ve outed trans students to their parents if the students wanted to be addressed correctly, and the state’s Republican-led legislature may not have enough votes to override Burgum’s veto.

S.B. 2231, sponsored by state Sen. Larry Luick (R), would have forbidden any schools from accommodating trans students in any way — including allowing them to use facilities and pronouns matching their gender identities — without first notifying and receiving permission from the students’ families. As such, the bill would have essentially required teachers to out trans students to their potentially unaccepting parents if the students sought any recognition or comfort at school.

Luick’s bill also would have forbidden any government entity from requiring employees to use a trans person’s pronouns. Parents and government employees would have been able to sue if these rules weren’t followed.

Luick sponsored the bill at the request of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, a religious policy group that opposes LGBTQ+ civil rights. Fifty-nine people submitted formal testimony against the bill, and 26 submitted testimony in favor of it. While supporters of the bill said it was essential to maintaining so-called “parent’s rights,” opponents said the bill would worsen the mental health of trans youth.

Gov. Burgum’s March 30 veto letter said that existing free speech protections already allow employees and teachers to sue if they’re required to use a person’s “preferred pronouns.” He also said that the bill “infringes on local control by unnecessarily injecting the state into rare instances most appropriately handled at the parent, teacher, and school district level.”

“Ambiguity throughout this bill would invite lawsuits and put teachers in the precarious position of trying to determine how to refer to students without violating law,” Burgum added. “The teaching profession is challenging enough without the heavy hand of state government forcing teachers to take on the role of pronoun police. Parents, teachers, and administrators using compassion, empathy, and common sense can address individual and infrequent situations that may arise.”

“North Dakota will continue to stand for free speech, local control, and freedom from discrimination,” Burgum’s letter concluded.

While Republican legislators have pledged a vote to try to override the governor’s veto, their chance of success remains unclear. While the bill passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority, it was three votes short of that threshold in the House, the news website Inforum reported.

The vetoed bill is just one of about 12 bills targeting the state’s LGBTQ+ community. The other bills include bans on gender-affirming care for minors, drag performances, trans participation in sports, and LGBTQ+ content in schools.

When Burgumo vetoed a trans youth sports ban in 2021, Republicans failed to override it. Burgum said the bill was unnecessary because “to date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.” He also said that the state’s body that oversees school athletics already had a trans-inclusive policy that has capably handled the issue for years.

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Jennifer Aniston says comedians have it hard now because “you have to be very careful”

Previous article

Democrats introduce “Trans Bill of Rights” in Congress

Next article