Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) on Wednesday introduced a bill to ban the use of the term “Latinx” in public executive branch documents.
The bill is the latest volley in a slow-burn battle over the term, which was originally intended as a gender-inclusive variation of the Spanish terms Latino and Latina.
Although Latinx as a term gained a measure of popularity among progressive circles, it generated pushback from some Spanish speakers because it is basically unpronounceable in that language.
“The Biden Administration is waging a woke crusade on Latino identity and the Spanish language,” Salazar said in a statement.
“We cannot allow the Biden Administration to use White House communications to attack our language and impose progressive ideology on our people.”
While the White House does not officially use the term in its press releases except in quotes or titles, it has come up outside of quotes and titles at least four times in statements so far in 2023.
In all four cases, the term was used in biographies for presidential appointees to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans; the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities; the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition; and for a member of the Inter-American Foundation.
Such biographies are commonly written by the subjects and submitted to officials for publication.
Other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Justice, have used the term in the past year.
Although many Hispanics have downplayed the controversy around the term, Salazar is not the first official proposal to ban Latinx in public communications.
In February, a group of Hispanic Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut proposed a bill banning the use of the term, following the tone set by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), who on her first day in office announced an executive action to ban the term on official Arkansas communications.
Mónica Ramírez, co-founder of the Latinx House, a group that promotes Hispanic culture, panned Sanders for focusing on a semantic issue.
“As an activist, advocate and attorney, I have spent time working in Arkansas. I have represented Latinx low-paid workers who were being sexually harassed, underpaid and otherwise mistreated,” Ramírez said in an email to The Hill in January.
“I can guarantee that the priority issue for them isn’t whether or not they are being called Latinx, Latino, Latine or Hispanic,” she added, saying people who choose to use the term do so “to be more inclusive of our LGBTQ siblings.”
While Sanders in her Latinx ban cited the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, the unofficial arbiter of Spanish-language usage rules worldwide, Salazar took a more political bent in her opposition.
“‘Latinx’ is a woke invention of the neo-Marxist left and as such should never be used to refer to someone of Latin American or Hispanic ancestry. Far-left professors in universities introduced the term in 2004 with the sole purpose of infiltrating the Hispanic community with gender ideology. Despite the push by college campuses to use the word, the public continues to reject it,” reads Salazar’s press release.