On Tuesday, Arkansas passed a new law banning transgender students at public schools from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the law, making Arkansas the fourth state in the U.S. to pass this type of anti-trans legislation.
As the AP reports, the law prohibits trans people from using multi-person restrooms and locker rooms in the state’s public and charter schools that do not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Superintendents, principals, and teachers who violate the law by allowing trans students to use facilities that match their gender identity face fines of at least $1,000. The law also allows parents to file private lawsuits against schools to enforce the measure.
The law, which will go into effect this summer, requires schools to provide “reasonable accommodations” to trans students, including single-person restrooms. But opponents of the law say it does not provide the funding schools need in order to provide those accommodations.
Moreover, that is similar to the compromise that Gavin Grimm’s school district offered him – Gloucester County Schools told him to use a bucket in a janitor’s closet – and that district eventually settled with him for $1.3 million in attorneys’ fees after he filed a discrimination lawsuit.
“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,” a Sanders spokesperson said in a statement. “Arkansas isn’t going to rewrite the rules of biology just to please a handful of far-left advocates.”
In her first few months in office, the newly elected governor has already signed multiple anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law. In February, she signed a bill reclassifying drag performances as adult-oriented entertainment. Earlier this month, she signed a bill similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, prohibiting classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation before fifth grade.
Just last week, Sanders signed another bill that allows anyone who received gender-affirming care as a minor to sue their doctor up to 15 years after they turn 18. In 2021, Arkansas became the first U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for minors after the Republican legislature passed a ban over then-governor Asa Hutchinson’s (R) veto. That law has not been implemented as a federal judge issued an injunction as a lawsuit against the bill works through the court system. But the bill signed by Sanders last week is seen as an attempt to prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors for fear of future lawsuits.
Similar laws preventing trans students from using the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity have passed in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, while bills in Idaho and Iowa are still awaiting those states’ governors’ signatures.
In Arkansas, an even broader bill that would make it illegal for trans adults to use any public restroom that matches their gender identity was approved earlier this month by the state’s Republican-majority senate.