The term “Latinx” can no longer be used on official state forms in Arkansas following an executive order from the newly installed governor.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote that “ethnically insensitive and pejorative language has no place in official government documents or government employee titles.”
Latinx is used as a gender-neutral alternative to “Latina” or “Latino.”
“The government has a responsibility to respect its citizens and use ethnically appropriate language, particularly when referring to ethnic minorities,” stated Sanders in the order.
“One can no more easily remove gender from Spanish and other romance languages than one can remove vowels and verbs from English,” added Sanders. “It is the policy of the Governor’s administration to prohibit the use of culturally insensitive words for official state government business.”
The order notes that the Pew Research Poll found that only 3% of American Latinos and Hispanics use the term Latinx and that the Madrid-based Real Academia Española officially rejected the term.
All state agencies, offices, and departments are now prohibited from using “Latinx,” “latinx,” “Latinxs,” or “latinxs” on any official documents. They have been ordered to review documents and submit a detailed report regarding the current use of the prohibited terms. The entities also have 60 days to replace the terms with “Hispanic,” “Hispanics,” “Latino,” “Latinos,” “Latina,” or “Latinas.”
The order has upset some diversity advocates who feel the move prevents discourse about minority groups.
In an article for Madame Noire, Adiba Nelson described Sanders as a “professional bender-of-truth” who fails to understand “the social and cultural nuances of economy, education, identity and language.”
“I suspect that at the root of her decision to ban the word Latinx is really a desire to strike the existence of an entire culture from the record of existence in Arkansas,” wrote Nelson, who says Latinx is a term preferred by “many in the LGBTQIA+ community as a way to identify their gender identity within the context of their cultural identity.”
“She’s not only attempting to ban how people of Latin culture/heritage identify themselves, but she is covertly yet effectively removing the existence of Latinx LGBTQIA+ individuals from the Arkansas rolls,” said Nelson.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 8.3% of Arkansas’s population identifies as Latino or Hispanic.
Sanders is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, the state’s 44th governor from 1996 to 2007. She served as the White House Press Secretary under President Donald Trump, who endorsed Sanders in January 2021.
“Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct,” said Trump. “Sarah is strong on Borders, tough on Crime, and fully supports the Second Amendment and our great law enforcement officers.”
Sanders is the first female governor in Arkansas’s history, winning 63% of the vote.