Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, proposed a bill that would prohibit school employees from calling students by a name or pronouns that differ from their birth certificate without parental consent
A bill the Louisiana Legislature will consider would prohibit school employees from calling students by their preferred names and pronouns without their parent’s permission.
House Bill 81, also called the Given Name Act, filed by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, would only allow teachers and other school employees to refer to students by a name or pronoun that differs from what’s on their birth certificate if the student’s parent or guardian gives written consent.
In essence, the bill would require transgender youth to come out to their parents or else be deadnamed and misgendered at school. Deadnaming refers to calling a transgender person by the name given at birth. Misgendering is the act of referring to someone by a gender they do not identify as.
“Enforcing the misgendering of students is an intentional act of dehumanization,” reads a Facebook post from the Real Name Campaign, a New Orleans-based group that advocates for issues affecting transgender individuals.
Transgender youth may have a litany of reasons not to inform their parents about their identities, including a fear of rejection or abuse.
Research indicates about 82% of transgender individuals have experienced suicidal ideation. Limited research on the topic also places transgender adolescents at higher risk of psychological, physical and sexual abuse.
The bill would also allow any public school employee to exempt themselves from using pronouns that differ from those traditionally associated with the two biological sexes if they have a religious or moral objection. For example, a teacher could decline referring to a student as “they” for these reasons.
Crews did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates, said Crews’ bill codifies the right to disrespect people.
“I think this pronoun bill tries to claim that it’s about parental rights because it cites multiple things related to parental rights,” Michelle said. “For me, it reeks of a fear of trans people.”
After the bill was filed, several people took to social media pointed out that, as written, it would also apply to cisgender individuals who use nicknames.
My Mom would’ve had to send a note to school asking them to allow me to be called “Christie,” as I was throughout elementary, middle and high school.
— Christina Stephens (@CEStephens) March 13, 2023
Crews’ bill would allow those who have been “aggrieved” by a violation of the law to seek relief from the courts, although his proposal does not outline specifics.
Crews is known for his controversial stances on LGBTQ issues.
During the 2022 regular legislative session, he moved to revive Louisiana’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which had been killed in the House Education Committee, by discharging it to a Committee of the Whole. It would have required the entire House to hear the bill as a committee, but the bill ultimately did not receive another hearing.
Crews also sponsored an amendment to last year’s bill creating an Office on Women’s Health within the Louisiana Department of Health. His change, which gained approval, excludes transgender women from receiving its services.
The Given Name Act bill has been referred to the House Education Committee. In the past, the committee has opted to shut down some bills impacting the LGBTQ community, such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. On other matters, such as a bill to require student athletes to compete as their sex assigned at birth, the committee has given its approval.
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