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Rokita condemns ‘transanity’ of preferred names and pronouns

LawRokita condemns 'transanity' of preferred names and pronouns

Attorney General Todd Rokita is giving Indiana business owners and employees the green-light to call their co-workers by something other than their preferred name and pronouns — especially if the co-worker is transgender.

The Republican, who prefers the name “Todd” but actually is named “Theodore Edward,” issued an official opinion Wednesday declaring that nothing in state or federal law requires colleagues to use a co-worker’s preferred name or pronouns, so long as a reasonable person would not find the practice creates an objectively hostile work environment.

“As I travel the state, I personally speak with many small business owners on a daily basis, and their employees, and everyone is concerned about the ‘transanity’ that’s dominating so many facets of our society,” Rokita said.

“It’s very simple. There are, in fact, two sexes, and only two sexes: male and female. The fact is, we cannot function effectively as a republic if we deny the basic facts of creation.”

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Rokita’s opinion on the subject was requested by state Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, who is competing Tuesday in a six-candidate Republican primary in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District.

The attorney general insisted Speedy asked for his opinion months ago and it’s merely a coincidence it came out just before the primary, as was the official opinion Rokita issued April 11 on access to Indiana abortion data at the request of state Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, who also is competing Tuesday in an eight-candidate Republican primary in Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

Rokita himself is running for renomination at the June 15 Republican State Convention for a potential second term as attorney general.

In any case, Rokita is not offering to defend any Hoosier employer or worker who acts on his opinion concerning preferred names and pronouns because he acknowledged there is no absolute immunity.

Ultimately, it would be up to a court or jury to decide whether consistently misnaming or misgendering an employee or co-worker violates the law.

“It is possible, in certain situations, albeit rare, that repeated, continuous, intentional use of people’s non-preferred pronouns, meant only to harass someone, could create a hostile work environment under the right circumstances,” Rokita admitted.

Nevertheless, Rokita said he’s more concerned about preserving the ability of an employer or an employee to call their co-worker by whatever they want to call that person, rather than using the name and pronouns by which the co-worker has asked to be known.

“It’s not necessarily about the person. It’s about the other employees that that person works with. And we have to ensure that we have a workplace that’s non-hostile to everyone,” Rokita said.

“Most Hoosiers agree that we all should extend love and compassion toward individuals dealing with gender dysphoria. After all, it is a problem, and it should be treated. But it doesn’t need to be affirmed, nor should it. Treating these individuals with respect, however, does not require us, by law, to deny basic truths, like the fact that there are only two sexes.”

Speedy said he agreed and he applauded Rokita for protecting employers and employees from having “gender ideology” imposed on them in a workplace environment.

“The motivation here is to protect businesses from government overreach, from, you know, the cancel culture, the wokeism that we are experiencing. We are simply being responsive to small business in asking for this opinion. It allows people of either traditional or a faithful perspective to be who they are, if they continue to be loving and respectful, but not have to bow down to our woke culture,” Speedy said.

In response, state Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, a Purdue University Northwest graduate and an openly gay member of the General Assembly, denounced Rokita for using “the LGBTQ+ community as a scapegoat to garner media attention and fan the flames of partisan resentment.”

“The only ‘radical gender ideology’ we need to be worried about is that which fuels our state’s drive to single out transgender Hoosiers for ceaseless attacks designed to manufacture outrage and divide our communities. Trans people are just that — people and workers deserving of the same respect as anyone else,” Ford said.

“We call on the attorney general and associated elected officials to move on from their hyperfixation on imagined problems, leave vulnerable minority communities alone, and get back to work solving the real issues facing this state.”

Separately, Rokita last week acted in Indiana’s name and joined a six-state lawsuit challenging a new U.S. Department of Education rule clarifying that a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools, a statute known as “Title IX,” includes violence and harassment based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Title IX has promised an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in our nation’s schools free from sex discrimination for more than 50 years.

“These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming and respect their rights,” Cardona said.

Rokita, on the other hand, contends the rule change will enable men to invade women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, play on female sports teams, and access other female-only activities and spaces.

“You know, it seems like nearly every day when we look at the news we see a new push by America haters to force the rest of us to embrace the radical gender ideology that they want to impose on Indiana and the rest of the country,” Rokita said.

There is no timeline for a ruling in the lawsuit.

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