LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas legislature passed a bill Thursday that could change the rules on public school employees using a student’s preferred pronoun.
Under House Bill 1456 school employees could not be compelled to use an unemancipated minor’s preferred pronoun as a matter of free speech.
The legislation will now move to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ desk for signature.
The bill states a minor’s correct pronoun is reflected by their birth certificate.
By the legislation, a school employee could use someone’s preferred pronoun only if they have written permission from the minor’s parent or guardian and are willing to use it. If the school employee is not willing, even with written permission, they are not required to do so.
If a school employee’s pronoun use goes against a minor student’s, parent or guardian’s wishes, they shall not be subject to “adverse employment actions” by the bill’s terms. If they are subject to employment actions, an employee may sue.
The bill, named “The Given Name Act,” was sponsored by Rep. Wayne Long (R-Bradford) and Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Little Rock) with 11 cosponsors. It was first filed with the legislature on Feb. 20.
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn Friday.
Transgender individuals often change their self-referential pronouns and name as a component of their determined gender. The use of the pre-transition pronoun and name is referred to as deadnaming by transgender rights advocates.