Arkansas governor (Asa Hutchinson) signs Bill Banning Transgender girls from School Sports

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On Thursday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 354, which bans transgender women and girls from participating in school sports. The decision comes two weeks after Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed a similar bill, which will go in effect July 1.

The Arkansas bill was introduced in late February by attorney general Leslie Rutledge, who described it as a preemptive effort after President Joe Biden signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in school sports.

“We don’t want common sense to be overshadowed by so-called political correctness, and this bill will ensure the integrity of girls and women in sports,” Rutledge said, while acknowledging that she was unaware of any instances of transgender athletes playing on school sports teams in Arkansas.

The Republican governor approved the measure despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth. Hundreds of college athletes have also urged the NCAA to refuse to hold championships in states that enact such bans.

“This law simply says that female athletition,” Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. “As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”

Republicans in at least 20 state legislatures have been pushing for similar bans this year. Mississippi’s governor signed a prohibition into law earlier this month. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem had initially said she would sign similar legislation sent to her but has since pushed for changing it to exclude college sports. Arkansas’ law covers K-12 as well as collegiate sports.

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, called Hutchinson’s decision “an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences.”

In a statement released Thursday, Hutchinson called his decision to sign the bill as a way to “promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”

“Today, I have signed into law SB354 called the ‘Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.’ I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully,” Hutchinson wrote. “This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law.”



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