Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 23, 2023

Issues that matter most to North Dakotans are being ignored as some legislators choose to attack the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community and erode their rights with bills that stoke fear and hatred amid discriminatory rhetoric. 

The ACLU of North Dakota opposes numerous bills that will be heard in committee hearings throughout the week. These harmful bills distract from the state’s real problems.

  • House Bill 1333, which would prohibit “adult-oriented performances,” including drag and cabaret shows, in the presence of minors and on public property, is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
  • House Bill 1249 and House Bill 1489 would ban transgender women and girls from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity and forbid their participation in both high school and collegiate athletic activities. House Bill 1249 is similar to legislation Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed in 2021.
  • House Bill 1522 would prohibit teachers and school officials from using a student’s preferred pronouns. Those in violation could be fined up to $500,000. Similarly, Senate Bill 2231 would prevent public schools from acknowledging a student’s gender identity or use their preferred pronouns.
  • House Bill 1473 would designate bathrooms and locker/shower rooms at schools and other state facilities as single sex, defining sex as that which was assigned at birth. This means transgender people would be prohibited from using the space that affirms their gender identity. Policies that single out transgender people like this violate federal and constitutional law.
  • House Bill 1332 would deem that conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people is “not an ethical violation” for social workers in the state. Conversion therapy is widely discredited as a counterproductive and cruel practice that subjects people to immense physical, emotional and psychological harm. Organizations like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have condemned the practice as traumatizing and ineffective.
  • House Bill 1254 and House Bill 1301 would prohibit doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender North Dakotans. Both bills would take away private health care choices around the provision of medical care consistent with prevailing medical and scientific standards. Such choices should be made between a doctor and a patient, not politicians.
  • House Bill 1297 would prohibit transgender people from obtaining birth certificates that accurately reflect their identity. Forcing transgender North Dakotans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates – a basic form of identification and essential government document – would mean trans people would be forced to disclose their trans identity when seeking essential needs.

“Let’s get real – these discriminatory bills are motivated by ignorance, misinformation and fear,” said Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager. “We send people to Bismarck to solve actual problems in our state, not to find ways to attack LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people. With serious issues like our state’s workforce shortage, affordable childcare, education funding and health care, we urge North Dakota lawmakers to focus on the issues that really matter.”

In recent years, the ACLU has challenged bills across the country restricting access to gender-affirming health care, barring trans people from updating identity documents, and denying transgender students equal access to school facilities and activities, as well as defending inclusive policies from political and legal attacks. In addition, the ACLU has protected families from a statewide effort in Texas to remove transgender youth from their parent’s custody and successfully defended bans on books by or about LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people.

About the ACLU of North Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.