North Dakota governor signs bill restricting transgender pronouns, bathroom use

Image by By Office of the Governor, State of North Dakota

On Monday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed a measure that prohibits transgender students and employees from using school toilets and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identification and permits instructors and state government employees to misgender transgender students and colleagues.

The new rule, which takes effect immediately, also mandates that educators share students’ transgender status with their parents or legal guardians. Late last month, the Republican-controlled legislature of the state enacted the bill with a majority large enough to override Burgum’s veto.

According to a statement released by Burgum on Monday, the new law “largely codifies existing practices while reaffirming the First Amendment right to free speech.” This bill strikes a good compromise between “rights and interests of students, parents, and teachers,” he stated.

It does not have the “concerning language” that led to Burgum’s veto of a similar bill back in March, he said. Senate Bill 2231, which was vetoed, would have made it illegal for educators and public servants in North Dakota to discriminate on the basis of “expressed gender,” or a person’s gender identity, in the classroom or the job.

Senate Bill 2231 was vetoed in March after Governor Burgum stated in his veto statement that the bill was too vague and would subject the state to litigation and require teachers to “take on the role of pronoun police.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Burgum has now signed eight bills this year that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people, including the new law in North Dakota. Twenty other states have banned transgender women and girls from playing on female sports teams, and North Dakota joined them last month by making providing such treatment to kids a felony.