Profe Addresses Proposed Bill Targeting Transgender Students

Della Phillips, Editor-in-Chief

North Dakota Governor Burgum vetoed a bill on March 30 that would have placed restrictions on transgender students in North Dakota public schools.

House Bill 1522 would have prohibited students from using any restroom that does not coincide with their biological sex. It also stated that public schools and teachers would not be allowed to address transgender students by their preferred pronouns without permission from their parent or guardian. Additionally, teachers would not be allowed to withhold information about a student’s transgender status from their parent or guardian.

Since Governor Burgum vetoed the bill and the House failed to override his veto, it won’t currently be going into effect. However, this does not stop another such bill from being enacted in the future, having a great impact on transgender students in North Dakota public schools.

Profe (Mr. Worthington), the adviser of Spectrum, South’s LGBTQ+ club, wants to support all of his students in the best way possible. He would not have been comfortable with the section of the bill requiring teachers to disclose students’ trans identity to parents. “I don’t want to be the one to out a student… Because when you haven’t gone through that process yourself, you don’t know how painful it can be for someone else who is in a different situation than you, in a different family from you.”

As for the bathroom issue, “I have already talked to my students about the use of bathrooms and what we could do if this bill were to go into effect. So we did talk about, there are restrooms in the school that are single stall, single use. I pointed them out in case the kids didn’t know where they were so that at least they could feel that they could go to the bathroom comfortably.”

He feels that other teachers have been very supportive of transgender students as well. “[They’ve] been really positive, especially coming from the South staff just simply because we’re generations different from students. I do understand that some staff might not really understand and having them be so positive and willing to help with that has been really wonderful.”

Just because this bill won’t be currently going into effect, doesn’t mean something similar couldn’t be brought up again in the future. As students become young adults and have the ability to vote, Profe encourages students to make educated decisions. “Figure out what voting means and how to research a candidate. Do you know your candidate and what they’re standing for? Do you know what bills mean? Did you yourself go in; did you investigate it?” He wants to make sure students are aware of what their political power is and could be.

“And I think that we just need to make sure that we’re putting people in the building, both staff and students, who are… willing to teach people how to be more empathetic and more open-minded,” said Profe. “This is the only life we have and there’s really no point living it being hateful and spiteful based on something that you don’t understand and something you’ve never experienced.”