Six Republican members of the North Dakota Legislature introduced a bill Wednesday that would send a clear message to nonhuman-identified students: You’re not wanted in the Roughrider State.
The two-page bill, which is primarily a measure seeking to prohibit schools in the state from accommodating transgender youths, includes a subsection aimed at a different — and theoretical — category of students.
“A board of a school district, a public or private school, or a teacher in a public or private school may not … Adopt a policy establishing or providing a place, facility, school program, or accommodation that caters to a student’s perception of being any animal species other than human,” the bill, labeled an “emergency measure” by its authors, states.
This section of the bill appears to be connected to an urban myth about litter boxes in U.S. schools that spread among conservative Republicans ahead of the November election. An NBC News report published in October found this myth — about schools providing accommodations, like litter boxes, for children who identify as cats — to be untrue.
While the North Dakota bill does not mention litter boxes, one of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Lori VanWinkle, said her state does indeed have students who don’t identify as human.
“Yes we have people who would like to claim themselves as animals such as cats and dogs,” VanWinkle wrote in an email.
The bill’s five other Republican sponsors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The bill, if passed, would also ban accommodations for transgender students, including a teacher’s use of a student’s “preferred gender pronoun, if the perceived or expressed gender is inconsistent with the student’s” sex assigned at birth. Schools found to be in violation of the policy could be fined up to $500,000 in damages, the bill states.
In just the first few weeks of the year, state lawmakers across the U.S. have introduced over 140 bills targeting LGBTQ rights and queer life, according to an NBC News analysis, with the majority of these bills focusing on transgender young people.
Brooke Sopelsa is the editorial director of NBC Out, NBC News’ LGBTQ digital destination.