Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the “Safeguarding Free Speech Act” recently, aiming to grant federal employees and contractors the right to sue for damages, collecting amounts of up to $100,000 if a federal agency or department compels them to use biologically-inaccurate personal pronouns.
In a press release, Cruz highlighted that the legislation would prevent federal agencies from mandating employees or contractors to use personal pronouns conflicting with an individual’s biological sex. The senator attributed the need for this bill to what he perceives as a new government policy infringing on employees’ constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion.
Cruz pointed to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) “Gender Identity Non-Discrimination and Inclusion Policy for Employees and Applicants,” issued on October 11th, 2023, as the catalyst for the proposed legislation. According to Cruz, this policy compelled speech by requiring HHS employees and contractors to use colleagues’ “preferred pronouns,” even if those pronouns don’t align with biological reality.
He argued that this speech mandate violates the First Amendment, compelling government employees and contractors to affirm the idea that “gender identity” can be separated from biological sex, violating both the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses.
The bill explicitly prohibits federal agencies or departments from requiring employees or contractors to use another person’s preferred pronouns if incompatible with their sex or a name other than a person’s legal name.
Under the proposed legislation, a court may award various forms of relief, including temporary, preliminary, or permanent injunctive relief; compensatory damages; and punitive or exemplary damages, capped at $100,000. The court may also grant reasonable attorney fees in any action under this subsection.
Editor’s Note: This legislation needs to be codified protecting every citizen from compelled speech, not just those who work in or for the US Government.