Proposed Senate bill places restrictions on transgender student pronouns in Arizona schools

The bill is supposed to help students' parents be more informed when their child goes by a different pronoun or name than their biological one.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 7:51 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2023 at 10:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Senate Bill 1001 regulates students’ pronouns and names at Arizona schools. The bill would limit when school employees can refer to a student by a pronoun different from the student’s biological pronoun. “All this bill says is get the parent’s permission,” Senator John Kavanagh (the bill’s sponsor) said.

Kavanagh says his bill isn’t intended to limit transgender rights for minors. Instead, he says it’s supposed to help these minors’ parents be more informed when their student goes by a different pronoun or name than their biological one. “Schools are keeping the parents in the dark,” Kavanagh said. “Which prevents the parents from helping the child, supporting the child, and perhaps getting outside psychological help for the child.”

If signed into law, Kavanagh’s bill would not allow school employees to knowingly refer to a student by a pronoun that differs from the pronoun that matches the student’s biological sex, even if that’s what the student wants. In addition, a student’s parents would need to sign permission for the employees to do so. “This bill is about child safety,” he said. “We don’t want to hide from the parents psychological problems that could result in suicide. And it’s about parental rights. A parent has a right to know something this significant about the child.”

But Human Rights Campaign Arizona Director Bridget Sharpe says the bill would create more threats to a child’s safety if passed. “A student has the right to express their gender identity,” she said. “They have a right to express that to whoever they wish, and it’s up to them who they trust and who they feel safe around to be able to share that information.”

Sharpe says while a parent’s signature might not seem like much, it’s something that other students don’t have to deal with. “It just sort of says, pronouns are only important if it’s a non-binary person or a trans person,” she said. “It’s making an issue that doesn’t exist.”