North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed legislation Monday that restricts the rights of transgender residents in the state. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum/Twitter
May 9 (UPI) -- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday signed controversial legislation that permits the misgendering of transgender students and government employees, directs teachers to inform parents of their child's transgender status and allows schools to prohibit students from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
House Bill 1522 is the latest in a slew of legislation that the Republican governor has enacted this year that restricts the rights of transgender North Dakotans and which is part of a larger GOP legislative effort to rescind the rights of LGBTQ people nationwide.
The bill was signed by Burgum after it passed through the state's Republican majority House and Senate in mid-February and early last month, respectively.
Effective immediately, the bill specifically bars government entities and schools from adopting a policy that requires or prohibits the use of a student's or colleague's preferred gender pronoun.
Concerning restrooms, the bill allows schools to prohibit students from using those that match their gender identity, while allowing transgender students to use a separate restroom if approved by a parent or legal guardian.
It also states that no school employee or teacher may withhold or conceal information from a parent about their child's transgender status.
Burgum signed the bill after vetoing similar legislation in late March over language he disapproved of.
"House Bill 1522 largely codifies existing practices while reaffirming the First Amendment right to free speech, requiring restroom accommodations, balancing the rights and interests of students, parents and teachers, and not including the concerning languages from the previously vetoed and sustained SB 2231," Burgum told UPI in an emailed statement.
Proponents of the bill have framed it as a measure to protect the rights of parents and free speech, while opponents see it as another legislative attack in the state on transgender youth that is motivated by ignorance and misinformation.
"It doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights to share spaces with those who are different," Cody Schuler, advocacy manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, said in a statement on Monday. "Like previous efforts to expel people of color, people with disabilities and others from communal spaces, these arguments from privacy and safety just mask a fear of difference."
The move comes after Burgum signed legislation in April to ban most transgender minors from receiving medical and surgical forms of gender-affirming care as well as prohibiting transgender student athletes from playing on sports teams designated for girls and women.
According to the ACLU, with the signing of House Bill 1522, North Dakota has enacted eight laws affecting the rights of LGBTQ residents this year.
However, the liberties union said it is tracking 474 pieces of legislation it calls anti-LGBTQ bills that have been entered so far this year into legislatures across the country.