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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill to exempt misgendering, deadnaming from discrimination laws clears the House

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News: Politics

A policy that would change unlawful discrimination practices to exclude students’ misgendering or calling a classmate by their legal name has passed through its final hearing in Montana’s House of Representatives.

The bill’s sponsor, Brandon Ler, a Republican from Savage, says that the bill allows children to follow their beliefs.

“I do not agree with bullying, and I will never condone bullying. What this bill is meant to do is to allow our children, in education, to have their own beliefs and not have somebody else's beliefs forced on them,” he said.

The bill was amended in the House Judiciary Committee to say that misgendering or deadnaming cannot be done “to the point of bullying”, but opponents say the bill could still encourage bullying particularly of trans, nonbinary and two spirit students.

Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr from Missoula spoke in opposition to the bill.

“This bill and the codification of this policy is allowing, is codifying, someone's ability to do something to another person, and that is a distinct category,” Zephyr said.

The votes in the House fell along party lines with Democrats voting against the proposal and Republicans voting for it.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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