LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill filed in the state legislature is stirring up more controversy in the transgender community.
HB1156 seeks to designate bathrooms, changing rooms and overnight rooms on school trips based on gender assigned at birth. It could result in docking public school funds if schools do not comply.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mary Bentley who said it is centered around a push for safety.
“I just got done with a big primary, went door to door… I had a lot of parents concerned about keeping all their kids safe,” Bentley said.
Bentley said the bill aims to avoid issues in those rooms like bullying or sexual assault.
Opposers, like Gary Sullivan with the ACLU of Arkansas, said it is anything but a safety measure.
“That is exactly what is being done with this bill: Targeting trans students for no reason whatsoever,” he said.
The initiative is similar to what we saw the Conway School Board do recently and receive a lot of heat for. Bentley said that school and other public schools in her district encouraged her to file this bill.
Sullivan said the bill contradicts laws in place meant to protect students, like Title IX and Equal Protection.
“It creates a lot of problems for transgender students who are not out because it requires them to either use the restroom or changing facility that do not match their identity.”
Sullivan said the ACLU is not afraid to act when it comes to HB1156.