Arkansas Gov Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law prohibiting transgender people at public schools from using the restroom that matches their gender identity, the first of several states expected to enact such bans this year.
As a result of the measure that the Republican governor signed, Arkansas became the fourth state to impose similar limitations on public schools; proposals in Idaho and Iowa are currently awaiting their governors’ signatures.
It may be followed by a more stringent Arkansas law that makes it illegal for transgender individuals to use public toilets that correspond to their gender identification.
The rule in Arkansas, which won’t go into effect until later this summer, covers locker rooms and multi-person facilities at public and charter schools that serve students in prekindergarten through grade 12.
Sanders’ spokesman, Alexa Henning, stated, “The Governor has said she will sign laws that focus on protecting and educating our kids, not indoctrinating them and believes our schools are no place for the radical left’s woke agenda. Arkansas isn’t going to rewrite the rules of biology just to please a handful of far-left advocates.”
Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have passed legislation of a similar nature, while challenges have been brought against the limitations in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
This year, six years after North Carolina’s bathroom law was overturned in the aftermath of sizable demonstrations and boycotts, proposals to limit transgender individuals from using the toilet of their choosing have seen a revival.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, over a dozen restroom legislation have been filed in 17 states.
Paul Castillo, senior counsel and Lambda Legal’s strategist for student rights, said, “They’re singling out transgender people for no other reason than dislike, disapproval and misunderstanding of who transgender youth are. And the entire school population suffers as a result of these types of bills, particularly schools and teachers and administrators who are dealing with real problems and need to focus on creating a welcome environment for every student.”
The proposals are among a record number of measures that have been submitted to limit the rights of transgender individuals by prohibiting drag shows, barring transgender females from participating in school sports, and limiting or outlawing gender-affirming care for children.
The Arkansas law won’t go into effect until 90 days after the Legislature’s current session ends, which isn’t likely to happen until at least next month.
A week after endorsing legislation that made it simpler to sue organizations that offer gender-affirming care to adolescents, Sanders signed the law.
The goal of the measure, which won’t go into effect until this summer, is to essentially reinstall the federal judge-blocked ban on providing such treatment for minors.
A comprehensive education law that forbids classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation until the fifth grade was also signed by Sanders earlier this month.
The prohibition is comparable to a Florida statute that has drawn criticism as the “Don’t Speak Gay” rule.