Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs law banning inclusive language in state documents

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Arkansas’ Republican governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed an executive order banning inclusive language in state documents.

The executive order bans 12 terms she deems “woke” or “anti-women” from being used in “official government business” and states that “government should celebrate gender distinctions between men and women – not erase them”.

According to the hard-right governor, who served as the White House press secretary under Donald Trump, gender-neutral terms that are inclusive of trans and non-binary people such as ‘pregnant people’ and ‘chestfeeding’ are “exclusionary and sexist”.

However, a 2019 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that using gender-neutral terms can improve both gender equality and positive attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. 

Sanders’ order instructs the state government to “reject language that ignores, undermines, and erases women”.

It adds that the banned terms will be “replaced with accurate, female-affirming alternatives”, such as ‘breastfeeding’ instead of ‘chestfeeding‘ and ‘birth mom’ instead of ‘birthing person’. The change is effective immediately. 

You may like to watch

At a press conference following the signing of her executive order, Saunders was questioned about why she felt the need to ban the terms. She said inclusive language was “demeaning to women” and “needs to stop”. She also described the words as “nonsense terms”. 

According to a spokesperson for Sanders, she hadn’t been keeping tally of how many times the 12 banned terms have been reported, but was aware of one instance. 

The Arkansas governor’s spokesperson told US news site Axios that the term “pregnant person” was used in a Department of Health newsletter. The spokesperson did not confirm if anyone had complained about the term’s usage. 

In March, Sanders signed a law banning trans children from using toilets at school that match their gender identity. 

Sanders also capitalised on the transphobic backlash to Bud Light following its partnership with trans TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney in April, releasing a line of beer “koozies” featuring “real women” in politics.

To promote her enterprise, she tweeted out an advert with the message: “Real women don’t have to fake it.” 

Please login or register to comment on this story.