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North Dakota legislature approves bill allowing teachers to ignore students' preferred pronouns

North Dakota lawmakers approve a bill allowing teachers and government employees to ignore preferred pronouns. It also requires teachers to notify parents if a student is transgender.

A North Dakota bill advanced to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum would allow public school teachers and employees of government entities to ignore the preferred pronouns of their transgender students and colleagues.

Senate lawmakers passed the bill 40-6 without debate on Thursday – two days after the House pushed the bill through with a 68-22 vote. Both chambers passed the legislation with a veto-proof majority, which means it could become law without Burgum's approval.

The bill further prohibits transgender public school students from using the bathroom of their choice unless they have approval from a parent or legal guardian. 

In addition to the bathroom ban, teachers would also be required to tell a student's parent or guardian if the student identifies as transgender.


Republican Rep. Karen Rohr, who supports the bill, said it includes language the governor has said "he would have no objections to signing," according to The Associated Press. She added that the legislation is "also consistent with the governor’s statement that parents should be involved when these situations arise."

Republican Rep. Cynthia Schreiber-Beck said she opposes the bill because it doesn't go far enough, adding that private schools receiving state and federal funding should be included in the measure too.

"I have a real concern that this is only targeted at public schools," she said.

Though Burgum has signed several bills restricting transgender rights into law in recent weeks, his signature is not needed for this one to go into effect – though if he does sign it, it will become law immediately.

The bill could also become law if it sits at the governor's desk for three days with no signature. If Burgum decides to veto the bill, House and Senate lawmakers would likely override it and then the bill would become law.


Legislation signed in to North Dakota law earlier this month prohibits transgender children and adults from accessing bathrooms, locker rooms or showers in dormitories of state-run colleges and correctional facilities that don't align with their biological sex.

Another bill makes it a crime to provide minors with healthcare based on their gender identities.

A third one bars transgender girls and women from joining female sports teams in grade school and college.

Burgum did veto a similar bill in March that would have allowed teachers and government entities to ignore personal pronouns. The Senate voted to override his veto, but the House decided to let the veto stand.

The current bill was drafted by the Senate days later by adding the bit about ignoring pronouns into a legislation regulating bathroom access in schools.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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