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Proposed bill aims to prohibit CT state agencies from using the term Latinx

State Representative Geraldo C. Reyes Jr. speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 vaccination for teachers February 25, 2021.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
State Rep. Geraldo C. Reyes Jr. speaks at a news conference on COVID-19 vaccination for teachers Feb. 25, 2021.

A proposed bill would prohibit Connecticut state agencies from using the term Latinx.

State Rep. Geraldo Reyes Jr., a Democrat who represents Waterbury, introduced the bill, arguing that Latinx is not an appropriate term to use when referring to Spanish-speaking people; in fact, he finds it derogatory to the Hispanic community.

“To have a community just invent a word for their purposes is not respectful of the Spanish language or the Hispanic communities. I found it offensive,” Reyes said.

He stated that the term Latinx was created by non-Spanish-speaking people as an all-inclusive term. However, he said the word is offensive to Spanish-speaking communities.

Other Democratic state representatives support the bill, including Hilda Santiago, Juan Candelaria, Robert Sanchez and Minnie Gonzalez. Reyes believes their Republican colleagues will support the proposal, too.

Only 3% of the U.S. population uses the term Latinx, 20% does not use it and 76% has never heard of it. That’s according to a Pew Research study published in 2020.

“I am Puerto Rican. I don’t use that word,” Reyes said.

He continued: “I have to assume it’s coming from a woke generation that wants to expand inclusion, but you can expand inclusion by using the words that are already in the end pronouns and that are already in use right now.”

The Real Academia de la Lengua Española has not recognized the word Latinx in Spanish. The academy said people should default to masculine descriptions because they can also encompass the feminine. That said, this suggestion does not offer a solution for those who are gender neutral.

Juan Fonseca Tapia is a community organizer at the Center for Leadership and Justice in Harford. Fonseca, who focuses on LGBTQIA and immigration issues, said he believes division over the use of the word in the Hispanic community is largely due to a generational gap.

“I understand that there is a difference in generations and I know that there are a lot of older people in the Latino community who do not like the word Latinx, and I respect that,” he said. “I think that if you do not like to be referred to as such, that is your right.”

Fonseca said he would be happy to meet with state legislators to share his thoughts on the use of the word.

“Language is fluid, it changes. It never stays the same, and this is an example of that,” he said.

In January, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation that banned the word Latinx from all state documents. The bill states that it is “necessary to respect the Latino community by eliminating culturally insensitive words from official use in government.”

Reyes emphasized that the bill he proposed is not meant to offend any groups.

“I don’t think that we need it to be invented Spanish, which has been around for over 500 years. And I think it’s a beautiful language. It’s always been inclusive. It’s a part of the Romance languages, which has used the ‘o’ and the ‘a’ for gender specifics and neutrality,” Reyes said.

Reyes said he would contact Spanish linguistic experts to include their testimony on the proposed bill, which is in the preliminary stages.

Reyes hopes it will move forward to a public hearing and then come up for a vote in the state legislature.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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