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A ban on the State from enforcing the use of preferred pronouns passes the house

HB 538, would prohibit any state entity from enforcing gender-affirming speech. The entity could face civil penalties for violations if the law is passed.
Idaho State Capitol WINTER
Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 19:09:24-04

BOISE, Idaho — Will state entities be able to enforce the use of a person's preferred pronouns?

Republican Representative Ted Hill from Eagle is sponsoring a bill that hopes to make the answer to that question a "No".

HB 538, which passed the Idaho House on Friday by a vote of 58-11-1, would prohibit state entities from "compelling" people to use an individual's preferred pronouns.

Here is a list of who voted for and against the bill.

HB 538 vote 3/15/24

"This is a constitutional issue," Hill argued while debating in favor of the bill. "There are entities across the state and across the country that have not been vigilant in protecting us against compelled speech. And we can see a lot of instances of how far out of control that's become."

Democratic Representative Lauren Necochea disagrees with that statement, saying this isn't a constitutional issue, it's an issue of respect.

"We expect our publicly funded employees to adhere to a certain standard of respect and decency and we expect them to refrain from being unkind, uncivil, or discriminatory whether it's to the public or to their coworkers," Necochea said. "Respectfully addressing people the way they're asking to be addressed is no different."

Advocacy groups are also responding to the bill advancing to the next legislative step.

"House Bill 538 protects teachers and other state government employees by safeguarding constitutional guarantees for free speech, conscience rights, and religious freedom," wrote Blaine Conzatti, the president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, a conservative lobbying group.

The Idaho branch of Planned Parenthood Advocates Alliance called the piece of legislation the "Don't Say They" bill.

“It’s unbelievable to me that with all of the problems our state is facing, this is how our legislature is choosing to spend its time – attacking LGTBQ+ people." Said director Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman. "It’s shameful, unnecessary and detrimental. All people deserve the respect of being referred to the way they want to be referred to.”

The bill will now head to the Senate and if passed there, to the governor's desk.