New Arizona bill would regulate preferred pronouns, preferred names in schools

By Jill Ryan
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Monday, January 2, 2023 - 2:16pm
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Arizona lawmakers are once again treading into the rights of transgender minors.

A new proposal by a Republican legislator would bar school employees from knowingly referring to a student by a pronoun "that differs from the pronoun that matches the student's biological sex,” despite what the student wants. Employees would first have to get parental permission.

Bridget Sharpe, state director of the Human Rights Campaign, says the measure is trying to solve a nonexistent problem.

"If a child says that their gender is their gender, there's no reason to bring anyone else into the situation," Sharpe said.  

The bill, Senate Bill 1001, is expected to be expanded to disallow preferred names as well, except for variants. This way nicknames, which are names also not on birth certificates that students may identify with, wouldn’t be regulated by state government.

This legislation comes less than a year after state lawmakers approved — and former Gov. Doug Ducey signed — a measure to prohibit any form of "irreversible gender reassignment surgery'' on an individual younger than 18, even with the consent of parents.

But to get the votes, proponents had to remove a provision that would have prohibited doctors from providing puberty-blocking hormones or any other hormone therapy to minors.

Ducey also signed another measure passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature spelling out that anyone who is born a male cannot participate in intramural or interscholastic sports for females, regardless of whether she has fully transitioned.

The legislation also is raising concerns in the education community.

Marisol Garcia, president of the Arizona Education Association, said it comes even as the the state is losing thousands of teachers each year. And she said measures like this make it harder to convince more people to enter the profession, citing a conversation she had with some would-be teachers.

"It was their No. 1 priority: How do we stay in a state where we are constantly being politicized?'' Garcia said.

Politics Education Gender