EXCLUSIVE: SGA senator fights back against ‘unconstitutional’ pronoun mandate
The University of Houston’s SGA recently proposed a ‘Respect for Pronouns’ bill that will require its members to 'refer to others by their respective pronouns, and respect [people's] gender identity.'
Student senator Mike Abel is opposing the bill, claiming that it constitutes a violation of the First Amendment.
One student challenged the University of Houston (UH) Student Government Association’s (SGA) proposed pronoun mandate and won.
The so-called “Respect for Pronouns” bill would have required SGA members to refer to one another by preferred pronouns, that SGA members wear nametags with preferred pronouns, and “strongly recommends” that members also display pronouns during Zoom meetings.
Student senator Mike Abel is opposed the bill, claiming that it constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. The SGA’s Supreme Court agreed.
Campus Reform obtained Chief Justice Eddie Munoz’s Feb. 7 message informing Abel that “we [justices] all agreed that the last sentence of the bill is unconstitutional.”
Abel, who is also a member of UH’s Law Center, told Campus Reform that the bill in question, if enacted, would compel speech.
“I think that compelled speech at public universities isn’t proper or constitutional regardless of what the agenda being pushed is,” Abel said.
The bill cites UH’s “extremely diverse population with an extremely diverse set of gender identities” as justification for the mandates, arguing that “addressing a person by the proper pronouns… allows for a more inclusive environment.”
Abel added that the bill is inconsistent with the First Amendment, arguing, “The SGA’s bylaws incorporate the Constitution, and the 1st Amendment compelled speech doctrine bars the government from compelling people to express things against their will.”
He had raised the same concern to the SGA.
Abel’s original email to the SGA challenging the bill reads, “I want to ask the court to review the constitutionality of the proposed Senate Bill ‘Respect for Pronouns.’”
Pronoun mandates gaining a foothold in higher education is not new.
Back in the Fall 2022 semester, Campus Reform reported that the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth launched a pronoun database, allowing students to “submit their chosen name, pronouns, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”
The University of New Mexico took it a step further and required its members to comply with each other’s preferred pronouns.
Violating this rule could “constitute discrimination or harassment,” the policy revealed.
Campus Reform reached out to every individual and institution mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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