The Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill Monday that would require written permission from a parent before a public school employee may address students by their preferred pronoun or name.
The House voted 65-18 to approve House Bill 1468, which now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
“It protects the religious liberties of teachers, professors and administrators in our public education system,” said Rep. Wayne Long, R-Bradford, sponsor of the bill.
The bill bars school officials from addressing students by a pronoun that is “inconsistent with the un-emancipated minor's or student's biological sex” unless given written permission from a parent or guardian to do otherwise. School officials who refuse to address a student by a preferred name or pronoun cannot be punished, according to the bill.
The bill also prohibits faculty and staff from addressing students by a “name other than the name listed on the un-emancipated minor's or student's birth certificate." The bill does not apply to derivative names, such as “Bob” for “Robert,” Long said.
“This bill is presented as protecting school employees against compelled speech, but it only protects employees who don’t want to affirm students’ gender identity while limiting the speech of employees who do,” House Minority leader Tippi McCullough said.