HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A group of Hispanic lawmakers in Connecticut has suggested that the state follow Arkansas’ example in banning the term “Latinx” from official government documents, calling it offensive to Hispanic speakers.
The word is used as a gender-neutral alternative to “Latino” and “Latina” and, according to the word’s supporters, is helpful in supporting people who identify as neither male nor female.
But State Assemblyman Geraldo Reyes Jr. of Waterbury, the bill’s lead sponsor and one of five Hispanic Democrats to put their names on the legislation, said Latinx isn’t a Spanish word but rather an “awakened” term used for the population of Offensive Connecticut is Puerto Rican population.
“I’m of Puerto Rican descent and I find it offensive,” he said.
Last month, Arkansas government officials banned the use of Latin for formal documents as part of several orders issued by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders within hours of taking office.
Reyes said his motivations may differ from Sanders’, but he believes their decision was the right one.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latino civil rights group in the United States, announced in 2021 that it would no longer use the term Latinx.
“The centuries-old Spanish language defaults to Latino for everyone,” Reyes said. “It’s all inclusive. They didn’t have to create a word, it already exists.”
But Maia Gil’Adi, an assistant professor of “Latinx and Multiethnic Literature” at Boston University, said the word actually came from Latino and Latina youth and queer culture of the 1990s, with the “x” being a nod to the Aborigines of many people are roots.
“The word Latino is incredibly exclusive, both for women and for gender-nonconforming people,” she said. “And the term Latinx is really useful because it challenges those notions.”
David Pharies, a professor of Spanish language at the University of Florida, said another movement would replace the “o” and “a” in many Spanish nouns that refer to people with an “e.” He said it was something that Spanish speakers found easier to pronounce than the word Latinx.
“Latinx was clearly a solution proposed outside of the Spanish-speaking world,” he said.
It is not clear how many times the term Latinx has been used in government documents. A search for the word on the state government’s portal returned 945 hits for documents, including press releases, blogs and reports, that use the word. Michelle Dumas Keuler, an attorney for the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, told Hearst Connecticut Media that she uses the term upon request in any complaint about housing, employment, or other types of discrimination.
Reyes said he expects the bill to be heard during the ongoing session before the government’s Administrative and Electoral Committees of the Democrat-controlled legislature.
Democratic Governor Ned Lamont’s spokesman Adam Joseph said the governor’s office will monitor the debate as the bill moves through the legislature.