LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill designed to stop transgendered female student-athletes from participating in women’s school sports in Arkansas has now been signed by the governor.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he signed Senate Bill 354, titled the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, adding that be thinks the measure will “help 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. 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. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”
The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Missy Irvin and Republican Representative Sonia Eubanks Barker, sets rules in place so that transgendered female student-athletes at the elementary and secondary school levels, including charter schools, and at the public college level, must complete on teams that align with the biological gender at birth.
Both sides of the legislature passed the bill by wide margins, though opponents say the move would increase discrimination shown to transgender youth.
Another bill introduced this session, HB1749, also seems targeted to that group. The proposal, which would require public school employees to refer to students by the name and sex on their birth certificates, has been referred to the House Education Committee.
Arkansas is the second state to pass a bill like this in 2021, and Republican-driven legislatures in 20 states have similar measures under consideration.