Transgender women and girls in Arkansas will no longer be allowed to compete on school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.
A new bill was signed into law last week by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, despite objections from several medical and child-welfare groups over its potential to have devastating impacts on transgender youth.
The bill, which impacts K-12 students and those at the collegiate level, means trans-female student athletes in Arkansas can only compete under the gender assigned to them at birth.
Any student or school who suffers “direct or indirect harm” would also be permitted to sue a school for violating the ban.
Arkansas is the second state to implement discriminatory rules against trans people in sports in 2021, after Mississippi’s legislature passed a similar law earlier this year.
Alphonso David, the head of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, called the bill “an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences,” as NBC reports.
“Hutchinson is ignoring the ugly history of states that have dared to pass anti-transgender legislation in years past, and by doing so he is exposing Arkansas to economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation,” David said.
Unless it is halted by a legal challenge, Arkansas’ new anti-transgender sports policy will go into effect this summer.