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ID governor signs bill to protect speech, conscience at public schools

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2024

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Matt Sharp, director of the ADF Center for Public Policy, regarding Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s signing Monday of HB 538, a bill to strengthen existing law so that government entities cannot force employees and students at public schools to use inaccurate names and pronouns in violation of their sincerely held beliefs:

“No one should lose their job or face punishment at school for declining to say something they believe is false. Words and language carry meaning, and when used properly, they tell the truth about reality, feelings, and beliefs. Yet forcing individuals to say things that are untrue—such as inaccurate names, pronouns, and titles—imposes real harm on the speaker. In no world is it acceptable for schools to force good teachers out of a job all for the sake of promoting gender ideology to vulnerable children. Now and always, there are only two sexes—male and female—and denying this basic truth only hurts kids. With this legislation, Idaho is rightfully stepping into the gap to protect children and freedom of conscience. We applaud the Idaho Legislature for its leadership and Gov. Little for signing this bill to safeguard essential constitutional freedoms. All of society benefits when freedom of speech and conscience flourish.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Matt Sharp

Matt Sharp serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is the director of the Center for Public Policy. In this role, he leads ADF's team of policy experts as they craft legislation and advise government officials on policies that promote free speech, religious freedom, parental rights, and the sanctity of human life. Since joining ADF in 2010, Sharp has authored federal and state legislation, regularly provides testimony and legal analysis on how proposed legislation will impact constitutional freedoms, and advises governors, legislators, and state and national policy organizations on the importance of laws and policies that protect First Amendment rights. He has twice testified before the U.S. Congress on the importance of protecting free speech and religious liberty in federal law. Sharp also authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of nearly 9,000 students, parents, and community members asking the court to uphold students’ right to privacy against government intrusion. Sharp earned his J.D. in 2006 from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. A member of the bar in Georgia and Tennessee, he is also admitted to practice in several federal courts.