Human Rights Campaign Condemns North Dakota Legislature for Advancing a Total of 10 Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in a Single Day, Setting a Record of Rampant Hate Targeting the Community

by Cullen Peele

Bismarck, ND - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, rebuked North Dakota lawmakers for passing a total of 10 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, setting a record for the highest number of legislative attacks targeting the community in a single day this year. This slate of hate advanced yesterday when the North Dakota Senate passed ten bills targeting the rights of LGBTQ+ North Dakotans.

The Senate also overrode Governor Burgum’s veto of SB 2231, though it was sustained in the House, which would have given a free pass for public employees, including teachers, to harass and misgender transgender colleagues and students. Because the House did not override Gov. Burgum’s veto, the legislation will not become law. In his veto letter, the governor stated that the “teaching profession is challenging enough without the heavy hand of state government forcing teachers to take on the role of pronoun police. Parents, teachers and administrators using compassion, empathy and common sense can address individual and infrequent situations that may arise."

These pieces of legislation are the result of ongoing far-right pressure placed upon lawmakers, spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation campaigns on social media and other platforms. They barely scratch the surface of the hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states. The following bills will either head back to the House following amendments, have been sent to Governor Burgum’s desk for a signature or veto, or have been signed into law by the Governor:

  • HB 1139: Creates an additional rule for gender markers on birth certificates that discriminates against transgender people-- signed by Governor Burgum

  • HB 1249: Seeks to ban transgender students - including kindergarteners - from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity-- signed by Governor Burgum

  • HB 1254: An emergency declaration criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth-- sent to Governor's desk

  • HB 1297: Prohibits gender marker changes on birth certificates if a person identifies as transgender-- referred back to the House

  • HB 1473: Prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity in certain state-operated facilities-- referred back to the House

  • HB 1474: Removes transgender individuals from state data collection-- referred back to the House

  • HB 1489: Seeks to ban transgender college students from playing schools sports consistent with their gender identity, contrary to decades of NCAA policy-- signed by Governor Burgum

  • HB 1522: Penalizes schools for proper pronoun accommodations for trans student-- referred back to the House

HB 1333 was additionally assigned to conference committee to work out differences between the two chambers. The legislature also adopted HCR 3010, a resolution that asks public schools and state agencies to misgender transgender individuals in data collection efforts.

“It’s shameful, yet not surprising, that instead of spending their day attempting to tackle the real issues facing North Dakotans, extremist legislators in Bismarck were working vigorously to rile up the far fringes of their base– and now some of their most marginalized constituents could pay the price. These 10 bills – the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills to pass a single legislative chamber in one day in modern history – have the sole aim of pushing LGBTQ+ people back into the closet. We urge Governor Burgum to reject this plain and simple discrimination.”

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

In 2018, Governor Burgum unveiled a five-point program promising a “positive and innovative state government culture.” Governor Burgum has also called for a $25 million investment in a strategic marketing plan that includes the "Find the Good Life" campaign, a talent-recruiting initiative designed to grow North Dakota's economy while promoting the state as a place of opportunity, freedom, and community. Regardless of how many millions of taxpayer dollars are spent carrying this message, North Dakota lawmakers have made clear through the multitude of anti-LGBTQ+ bills they’ve introduced and passed that some people are simply not welcome in North Dakota.

So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 460 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 190 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 110 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, nine have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky and now West Virginia.

  • More than 25 bathroom ban bills filed,

  • More than 110 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:

  • 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.

  • 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.

  • 70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.

More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

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