Arkansas Governor Bans the Use of the Term ‘Latinx’

By Lauren Dulatre

On January 11, 2023, Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned the term ‘Latinx’ from official use in the state government within hours of being sworn in as Arkansas’s new governor.

‘Latinx’ is a term used within the Latino community that is more gender neutral compared to being called Latino or Latina. This term also originated in the early 2010’s and was mostly used online. Latinx was made as an effort to be more inclusive to individuals who were gender non-conforming. 

This was not the only executive order that Sanders signed, in fact she signed six other orders that were similar to the ban. The other orders included prohibiting Arkansas schools from teaching critical race theory, budgeting, and spending as well as other government affairs.

When giving a reason on why she banned the term ‘Latinx’, Sanders cited from the 2020 Pew Research Report that only 3% of the Latino community used the term ‘Latinx’. Sanders, also then cited from Real Academia Espanola, which is a Madrid-based cultural institution dedicated to the regularization of the Spanish language, rejects the use of ‘x’ as an alternative to ‘o’ and ‘a’.

But Ed Morales, the author of Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture,  spoke up after the executive orders were passed. Morales said when Sanders quoted from the Pew Research Report that only 3% use the term ‘Latinx’, Sanders did not say that 76% of the Latino community have not even heard of the term ‘Latinx’. Tabitha Bonilla, who is an associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, said, “I can think that it would show up very frequently in most government documents, but my biggest question is: who does this affect the most?”

Bonilla, Morales and other people have realized that Sanders’ new executive order seems to be a part of an increasing number of anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced in state legislatures across the nations. The vast majority of these bills have been introduced by Republicans. “It is really about transgender individuals and nonbinary individuals,” Bonilla said, “And in the language, it’s also portrayed as being about the Latino community.”

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