LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Transgender issues have been a hot topic of discussion in this year’s general legislative session in the Natural State.
Since January, at least 10 bills addressing transgender issues have been filed.
“Another after another after another, like, why now?” Conway High School student Cade Durham said.
Durham identifies as non-binary. At just 16 years old, they’ve faced their fair share of discrimination but said they never thought it would come from those in the top house.
“It really is a gut-wrenching feeling that makes you lose a lot of faith,” Durham said.
The latest piece of legislation is a bill that would prohibit requiring public school teachers to use a student’s preferred pronoun.
Arkansas state Senator Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs) said that the bill aims to prevent teachers from having to encounter a moral compromise.
“We’re not going to put a teacher in some sort of moral compromise position where they have to call a young girl a boy or a boy a girl in their classroom,” Hester said. “It’s a violation of free speech.”
“It is really odd to try and argue freedom of speech when you’re already trying to get rid of my identity, you’re trying to erase me for my freedom of speech which is using they, them pronouns,” Durham said.
Other bills discuss bathroom policies, overnight field trips and health care. Hester said that the push is to “protect our children.”
It’s a push that is being made across the country. The ACLU is reporting at least 30 other states who have filed similar bills.
“I love how Governor Sanders says we are in a world now where it’s normal or crazy and were not going to pretend that the crazy is acceptable to our children,” Hester said.
“I think a lot of trans people again are just starting to lose faith,” Durham said. “You can kind of see that in a person’s eyes where they just kind of dull out of the world, I guess.”
Hester said they hope to have decisions made on the bills in April.