Within the first day of her term as the newly elected Republican governor of Arkansas, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders filed seven executive orders, including one banning the use of the word “Latinx” in official state documents.
The executive order calls for the elimination of “ethnically insensitive and pejorative language,” such as “Latinx.”
“It is the policy of the Governor’s administration to prohibit the use of culturally insensitive words for official state government business,” the executive order said.
The term “Latinx” has been used as a gender-neutral and inclusive term to describe someone of Hispanic or Latino origin, but it has become the subject of controversy and debate within the community. According to Pew Research, about 1 in 4 Hispanic people have heard of the term “Latinx” but only 3% use it.
Under Sanders’ order, state offices, departments and agencies will be required to replace “Latinx” with “Hispanic,” “Latino” or “Latina” in all documents within the next 60 days. The move reflects similar initiatives adopted by other elected officials, such as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who banned the use of the term “Latinx” in all his office’s communications in December 2021.
“When Latino politicos use the term [Latinx] it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias,” Gallego said in a tweet in December 2021.
Six other executive orders were signed Monday by Sanders, who was a press secretary in the Donald Trump administration. One order prohibits public schools from teaching critical race theory, a theoretical framework of examining the way society’s perception of race shapes structures and systems. Sanders, as well as Republicans in other states, have been vocal adversaries of the theory being taught in schools.
Sanders was sworn in as governor on Monday, making her the first woman to hold that office in Arkansas. Her father was a previous governor of the state.
She has been a loyal supporter of former president Donald Trump and has backed his controversial actions and beliefs. She served as White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019.