Several Latino legislators in Connecticut who had proposed banning the term "Latinx" in state documents, calling it "offensive" and a "woke term," are proposing the use of another gender-neutral word already being used in Spanish-speaking Latin America.
The bill H.B.-6909 aims to approve the use of the terms “Latine” as well as “Latino” and “Latina” in state documents and official communications. The legislation wouldn't prohibit the use of “Latinx.”
For a coalition of LGBTQ groups in the state, the recent proposal is a win.
The lead co-sponsor of the new bill is state Rep. Geraldo Reyes, a Democrat, who previously led the legislation of the Latinx ban. That move came weeks after Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned the term in state documents on her first day in office.
Reyes had said his motivations to ban Latinx differed from Sanders. He said Spanish language “defaults to Latino” for everyone regardless of gender, and argued that Latinx is not a Spanish word and was offensive to Connecticut’s Puerto Rican population.
But in legislative hearings, LGBTQ groups testified about the growing use of the gender-neutral "Latine" — spelled primarily in Latin American countries as Latiné — within the Latino and Spanish-speaking LGBTQ+ community.
That was a selling point in the hearings, according to Nelson Rafael Feliciano Roman, founder and CEO of the Afro-Caribbean Cultural Center and coalition president of the Greater Waterbury PRIDE, a coalition of 15 LGTBQ+ community organizations.
Roman said the revised bill, which is expected to receive support in the Senate, is a fair compromise.
“The fact that we’ve gotten those six legislators that are just from a different generation to see the light and to acknowledge that the term Latine does come from our community, it is acceptable, it is inclusionary, I think is a victory for the LGBT community,” Roman, who testified in the bill's hearings, told NBC News.
Roman self-identifies as Latine. He said he was once a major proponent of the term Latinx to describe his identity due to a lack of options within the binary Spanish language.
Roman said Reyes and the other legislators shifted their stance after learning about Latine as a gender-neutral alternative. The term has been “picking up steam. It organically is coming from Central, South and the Caribbean of the Americas. And now it’s here in the U.S.,” he said.
NBC News reached out to Rep. Reyes for comment but he did not respond immediately.
If passed by the state Senate, the bill would go into law in October.