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SACRAMENTO, California, July 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A California appeals court last week unanimously struck down a state policy that forces healthcare providers to use transgender pronouns.

The California Third District Court of Appeals handed down a 3-0 decision in Taking Offense v. California on Friday, ruling against a provision in Senate Bill 219 that requires nursing staff to refer to residents by their “preferred name or pronouns.”

Senate Bill 219, enacted in 2017, also mandates that long-term care facilities place gender-confused individuals in rooms based on their “gender identity” and let them use bathrooms “available to other persons of the same gender identity.” Violations could result in a $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail, according to California Family Council.  

Taking Offense, an unincorporated association, challenged the provisions on pronouns and room assignments, saying that the coercive transgender pronouns rules violated First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and freedom of thought and belief. Taking Offense described nursing home staff as “virtual subjects and slaves” and transgender people as “kings and masters over the rest of the people” under Senate Bill 219.

California’s Third District Court agreed that the 2017 law violated free speech rights and noted that “the First Amendment does not protect only speech that inoffensively and artfully articulates a person’s point of view.”  

“Generally, the free speech clause protects a wide variety of speech a listener may find offensive, including insulting speech based on race, national origin, or religious beliefs,” the justices wrote.

“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,” they continued.  

The Third District Court concluded that Senate Bill 219 “is overinclusive in that it restricts more speech than is necessary to achieve the government’s compelling interest in eliminating discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex.”  

“Rather than prohibiting conduct and speech amounting to actionable harassment or discrimination as those terms are legally defined, the law criminalizes even occasional, isolated, off-hand instances of willful misgendering,” the court held, deeming the pronoun policy an unconstitutional “content-based restriction.”  

In a concurring opinion, Justice Ronald Robie acknowledged that the liberal court in fact supports coercive pronoun requirements, but told legislators to “fashion a workable means” to enforce them. “Instead of mandating that employers ensure the use of proper pronouns in the workplace, the Legislature unwisely made misuse of pronouns a crime,” he wrote.  

California’s criminalization of resistance to transgenderism “just went too far,” Robie said.   

The justices upheld the section of Senate Bill 219 that allows residents to demand room placement in accordance with their “gender identity.” 

The judicial rebuke to radical pronoun requirements in California comes amid a broader battle to protect freedom of speech against the dictates of transgender ideology in the U.S. 

Last week, a federal judge in Indiana upheld the firing of a high school teacher who refused to abide by  similar transgender pronoun guidelines. In March, however, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio, after he was disciplined for not recognizing a hostile, gender-confused student’s desired pronouns.

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