By TESS VRBIN | Arkansas Advocate
The Arkansas House approved a bill Monday that would require school employees in Arkansas to address students and other employees by their given names and pronouns.
House Bill 1468 would require written permission from a minor’s parent or guardian for school employees to use any “pronoun or title that is inconsistent” with the minor’s biological sex or any name or nickname that does not conform with the minor’s birth certificate.
The bill passed the House Education Committee twice earlier this month, with minor amendments advancing at the second meeting. Rep. Wayne Long (R-Bradford), the bill’s primary sponsor, told the committee and the full House that the bill is meant to protect teachers from being “compelled” to call others by names and pronouns that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The First Amendment protects freedom of religion, and Long reminded the committee and the House of the Religious Liberty section of the Arkansas Constitution’s Declaration of Rights: “No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience.”
Multiple people, including several who are transgender, told the committee on March 9 and March 14 that the bill would legalize discrimination against their community and punish support for it.
“This bill only protects First Amendment rights for those who believe it’s wrong to be trans, but where is the right for the folks who are trans?” said Ethan Avanzino, a transgender man who spoke against the bill on March 14.
The proposed law allows derivatives of the names on students’ birth certificates to be used without parental permission. Long confirmed this Monday after Rep. RJ Hawk (R-Bryant) raised the question, citing his own nickname.
Rep. Brit McKenzie (R-Rogers) expressed the same misgivings in the March 9 committee meeting, adding that he uses an androgynous derivative of his middle name.
Hawk and McKenzie were two of the five Republican House members to vote present on the bill. Reps. Keith Brooks of Little Rock, Justin Gonzales of Okolona and Bart Schulz of Cave City also voted present.
Rep. Joey Carr (R-Blytheville) joined 17 of the 18 House Democrats in voting against the bill. Rep. Fred Allen (D-Little Rock) and 11 Republicans did not vote.
The remaining 65 House Republicans voted to send the bill to the Senate.
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Categories: Arkadelphia News
More hate legislation by the body that’s supposed to represent and protect all citizens. Including the LGBT population
I agree. Who’s next?
I agree. Who’s next?