A California appeals court has ruled that a state law requiring nursing home staff to refer to transgender residents by their preferred pronouns violates the First Amendment.
The court said the pronoun provision was a “content-based restriction on speech” that runs afoul of the Constitution because it compels nursing home staff to communicate a message they may not wish to convey.
“The pronoun provision at issue here tests the limits of the government’s authority to restrict pure speech that, while potentially offensive or harassing to the listener, does not necessarily create a hostile environment,” the court ruled this month.
Judge Elena J. Duarte wrote the opinion.
The court upheld the part of the law that allows transgender residents to have room assignments based on their preferred gender identity.
An unincorporated group, Taking Offense, had challenged part of California’s Health and Safety Code pertaining to LGBT residents at long-term care facilities.
The legislation at issue was passed in 2017. According to court papers, Taking Offense consists of one California resident and taxpayer.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, who helped pass the bill, expressed disappointment in the ruling.
“We passed a law protecting LGBTQ seniors in nursing homes. It stops staff from deliberately misgendering trans seniors. A court struck down this 1 part, b/c this harassment is simply “disrespectful, discourteous or insulting.” No, it’s a harmful erasure,” Mr. Wiener tweeted.