JOHNSON, Ark. — It is now up to Governor Asa Hutchinson whether or not to sign a bill into law that would ban transgender girls from playing school sports based on their gender identity.
This is not the first legislation of its kind to reach the governor's desk. Now the Human Rights Campaign is urging the governor not to sign the bill.
Senate Bill 354 has support from Arkansas lawmakers passing through the State House with majority votes. But critics of the bill say it is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and are urging the governor to veto the bill.
The bill states that transgender women and girls would have a biological advantage over other female competitors, making it an uneven playing field.
Gov. Hutchinson says he supports the intention behind the bill, but that he still needs to read it over before making any decisions.
“I agree with the purpose of the bill and the intent of it, but when you’re entering into new areas of legislation you need to look at it carefully as to make sure there aren’t any unintended consequences,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
The ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign of Arkansas held a virtual news conference to discuss what this decision would mean for our state and our students.
“These bills will force companies to shut their doors and even leave this state, no state country or economy in this world has flourished under hatred," said transgender rights advocate Chris Attig.
Local members of the LGBTQ+ community say not allowing transgender girls to play sports is discriminatory and could be devastating to some students.
“I do not think there is a father in this state that thinks Arkansas legislature or governor should have a voice over family's private medical decisions, whether they can play in sports or what name they should use,” Attig said.
“Everyone should feel accepted and like they have a home here, if they chose to live here, I don’t think we should single out people and say they can’t do something everyone else can do," Victoria Albertson said.
If passed, the ban would apply to transgender girls in elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges.
There is no mention in Senate Bill 354 of transgender boys falling under this ban.