Lori VanWinkle seems to believe respecting students’ preferred pronouns is the same as committing murder.
The Republican representative in North Dakota made the claim during a state House judiciary meeting Monday on a Senate bill that would ban schools from adopting any policies or curriculum related to “expressed gender” and allow teachers to misgender students without facing penalty. VanWinkle supported the bill and seemed to argue that respecting someone’s preferred pronouns was tantamount to accepting murder.
“I mean this seems to be like we’re promoting them to make things up that aren’t true and then endorse that,” she said, suggesting that simply allowing students to use their preferred pronouns is instead encouraging them to lie about their gender. “I just don’t understand why we’re calling ‘lying’ protecting something, when we wouldn’t do it if [students] came to school and felt like they had the right to murder people,” she added.
The bill, which also bans schools from requiring staff training on gender, passed the Senate last month. Both chambers of the North Dakota legislature are controlled by the Republican Party, as is the governor’s office.
“Senate Bill 2231 only has one outcome for North Dakota,” North Dakota Student Association spokesperson Celeste McCash told local outlet KX News. “Economic losses. Individuals who are part of the LGBTQUIA+ community and their families will not consider moving to or continuing to live in our state.”
None of that is a problem for VanWinkle. “How does this even remotely fit into our constitutional obligation to promote a high degree of intelligence, patriotism, morality, and integrity for our students in the education system?” she asked earlier in the meeting.
Since entering office last year, VanWinkle has made a habit of reading Bible verses on the House floor and focusing on bills banning gender-affirming care and mask mandates. Last month, she cited a Covid-19 conspiracy theory while debating a bill on expanded workers’ compensation for firefighters and police officers, eliciting at least one audible groan from a fellow lawmaker.
Recently, VanWinkle joined Representative Brandon Prichard—known by local outlets as the “George Santos of North Dakota,” for reportedly lying about his education and even where he lives—to push a bill that would ban drag performances in the presence of minors or on public property. That bill, H.B. 1333, is also up for consideration.