‘Respect pronouns’ bill at University of Houston challenged on First Amendment grounds
Student senator Mike Abel at the University of Houston successfully challenged the Student Government Association’s (SGA) “Respect for Pronouns” bill that would have mandated the use of others members’ preferred pronouns.
The bill also calls for “Name tags containing the proper pronouns will be given to every member of the Student Government Association” and it “strongly recommend[ed]” to list pronouns during Zoom meetings.
The SGA’s Supreme Court is poised to rule in favor of Abel, determining that such legislation constituted a violation of the students’ first amendment rights, Campus Reform reported Friday.
Specifically, the SGA Supreme Court is said to have found that the last sentence of the legislation, which would have compelled speech from the organization’s members, was a violation.
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“Be it further enacted; Members of the Student Government Association must refer to others by their respective pronouns, and respect peoples gender identity,” the sentence reads.
In correspondence obtained by Campus Reform, the SGA Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Eddie Muñoz said that all justices agreed the aforementioned statement is “unconstitutional.”
“Hi Senator Abel, I wanted to keep you updated regarding your petition to the court. One of the justices is writing the opinion for it but we all agreed that the last sentence of the bill is unconstitutional,” Muñoz wrote.
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“Once the justice has finished the opinion and no one is filing a concurring or dissenting opinion I will go ahead and make it public,” he continued. When contacted, Muñoz declined to comment.
Free speech on campus has been a big issue in recent years. In November, Trinity College removed two college students’ “Thin Blue Line” and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags for allegedly violating campus policy, but permitted various LGBT flags to remain.
Other instances of woke ideology, critical race theory and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, as well as unequal enforcement of university policy targeting conservatives have emerged repeatedly from campuses.
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Free speech has also become a salient topic in American society more broadly, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to consider the impact that big tech companies have on Americans’ ability to express themselves.