Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo: Justin Ford/Getty Images.
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican, ordered to bar the use of Latinx.Photo: Justin Ford/Getty Images.

Arkansas to ban use of ‘Latinx’ in state business

In a streak of first-day order of business items, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders bars the state from using Latinx when referring to Latinos.


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Hours after taking her oath of office, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders proclaimed on Wednesday, Jan. 11, that using Latinx to refer to the state’s Latino population within government business is prohibited via executive order. 

It came as part of seven other executive orders that sought to further Sanders’ conservative agenda — many of which she campaigned on — in addition to limiting “the scope of government and empower Arkansans,” Sanders said in a statement. 

The ban on the gender-neutral term ‘Latinx’ was a fragment in an overarching order to prohibit the “indoctrination and Critical Race Theory in schools,” Sanders said, which includes the removal of the term “to respect the Latino community.”

“We want to root that out and make sure it never sees the light of day here in the State of Arkansas,” she added. 

Sanders, a Republican, is in line with her party’s stance on cogent social justice issues, many of which the GOP has villainized as part of a more general “woke agenda,” ostensibly being driven by Democrats. 

But what is unique about the executive order is that it is the first of its kind that precludes the Latino population specifically from using genderless terms in local government documentation. 

The background

To supplement the weight behind the executive order, Sanders first cites a 2020 Pew Research Center report which found that a scarce minority of U.S. Hispanics and Latinos use the term, whereas 20% had actually heard of it. 

In contrast, at the time of the report's publishing date, 76% marked they had never heard of the term in the survey, and the application of the term was limited to universities, media outlets, and corporations, according to Pew. 

The report, however, also cited its use in local government and cited the City of Chicago’s COVID resource center as an example. 

To date, the portal still uses Latinx when referring to the Latino population. 

But at the time, the actual use of the term was not widespread and inhabited in limited circles as the need for genderless terms rose to popularity. 

“Awareness of the term Latinx does not necessarily translate into use,” the report says, so the sample population that was surveyed and knew of the term — encompassing 23% — preferred not to use it, Pew found. 

Interviewed by NBC News, Tabitha Bonilla, an associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, said the executive order catered to an audience that finds that accommodating marginalized individuals, including trans and nonbinary folks, as part of an occult agenda within the left, despite there being no evidence to support those theories. 

Still, not much is known about the other 76% of the population surveyed, which said they had never heard of the term or were familiar with it, raising further questions about how widespread the awareness around Latinx, and its usage, means to the country’s fast-growing Spanish-speaking population.

A second citation in Sanders’ novel order is the Real Academia Española, the institution which outlines the linguistic standard for the Spanish language across Spanish-speaking populations and is a commonly-referenced resource for appropriate use of the language in formal formats. 

Historically, the Real Academia Española has accommodated language that is contemporary and understood among social groups. 

The word “béisbol” 20 years ago substituted “baseball” to accommodate a Spanish-speaking population whose tongue often interacted with English, notably, in Puerto Rico, where English is taught and spoken as a second language. 

Limited data, compounded with a historically flexible institution with extensive, documented instances of accommodating contemporary trends where necessary, makes it difficult to determine whether “culturally insensitive” is a widespread sentiment for Arkansas's Hispanic and Latino population. 

Other items in tow of the executive actions are freezes in hiring and promotions within government, as well as preventing the implementation of government regulations without her approval, KUAR reported. 


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