Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday signed a law banning transgender people at public schools from using bathrooms of their choice.
Arkansas became the first of several states expected to enact such a ban targeting the transgender community this year.
“The governor has said he 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,” the governor’s spokesperson Alexa Henning said in a statement.
“Arkansas isn’t going to rewrite the rules of biology just to please a handful of far-left advocates.”
Meanwhile, similar laws targeting the transgender community have also been enacted in Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee. However, lawsuits have been filed in Oklahoma and Tennessee against these restrictions.
“What this is is an attack on the continued existence in public of transgender people, and the criminalization of being transgender in public,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said earlier this month.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more bathroom ban bills have been filed in 2023 than in any previous year. And it says that the Arkansas one is more restrictive compared to other bathroom ban bills passed in other states.
The Arkansas law won’t take effect until later this summer, it was reported.
The restrictive law applies to multi-person restrooms and locker rooms at public schools and charter schools.
“They’re singling out transgender people for no other reason than dislike, disapproval and misunderstanding of who transgender youth are,” Paul Castillo, senior counsel and students’ rights strategist for civil rights organization Lambda Legal, told ABC News.
“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.”
Holly Dickson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said: “It’s a flagrant message from them that they refuse to respect (transgender people’s) rights and humanity, to respect Arkansans’ rights and humanity.”