BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – Who would have thought something as simple as pronouns could be the source of so much division among North Dakota lawmakers?
“It’s another week in the legislative session and we have another bill that tells some people that they are worth or not worth in our state,” said Rep. Josh Bosche, D-Fargo.
“It protects all children. It also supports parents’ rights and therefore parents’ confidence that their child is safe at school,” said Rep. Lori VanWinkle, R-Mino.
The House of Representatives voted to advance SB 2231, which would prohibit public schools and government agencies from requiring the use of pronouns that do not match a person’s gender at birth.
“This is a return to the fundamental law. As legislators, we return to our constitutional commitment to education. Educators can also rest easy knowing they only have to remember one name and a set of historically recognized biological pronouns,” said Rep. Lori VanWinkle, R-Mino.
But some lawmakers argue that SB 2231 endangers rather than protects children, especially transgender children.
“The real threats to children are poverty, hunger, lack of health care, gun violence, bigotry, social pressures, mental health and the like,” said Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo.
Those in favor say it’s a school issue.
“If that teacher makes a mistake and doesn’t call someone with the correct pronoun, are they punished in any way? It’s just common sense. It’s really saying that it’s neither required nor prohibited,” said Rep. SuAnn Olson, R-Baldwin.
The bill does not include criminal penalties. So opponents say it’s just a signal to LGBTQ students, and they hope to see the chamber change course.
“We can send a signal to North Dakotans that, ‘We don’t understand you, we may not agree with you, but at the same time, we’re going to allow teachers in your classroom who just want you to succeed.’ , treat you how you want to be treated,'” Bosch’s rep said.
It passed by a vote of 60-32. The bill passed both the House and Senate. Unlike some other related bills, this bill did not pass with a veto majority in the House. Governor Burgum has not said what, if any, he will do about it.
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