Arkansas Attorney General Proposes Bill to Ban Transgender Athletes from Girls' Sports

"Arkansas needs to support young Arkansans - not target a vulnerable group for political gamesmanship and at the expense of all young people," the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas said of the bill

Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas attorney general
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge proposed a bill on Monday that would ban transgender athletes from playing on women's school sports teams in the state.

According to the Associated Press, Rutledge said her legislation was in response to President Joe Biden's Jan. 20 executive order to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, including in school sports. Conversely, Rutledge's bill, the "The Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation Sports" Act, would ban transgender girls from athletics from kindergarten through college.

"We don't want common sense to be overshadowed by so-called political correctness," Rutledge — who said she didn't know of any transgender athletes who are currently playing on school sports teams in Arkansas — stated on Monday. "This bill will ensure the integrity of girls and women in sports."

As the AP noted, Rutledge is vying to earn the Republican nomination for Arkansas' governor next year.

"I want to send a strong message to President Biden and his administration that here in Arkansas, we intend to require schools to prohibit biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls' sports teams," she said, according to KATV.

Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas attorney general
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rutledge's legislation received swift condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.

"Attorney General Rutledge was elected to represent every Arkansan yet is abusing her power to exploit and bully transgender students and their families as part of a coordinated, sweeping, and sustained attack on LGBTQ Arkansans," Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas' executive director, said in a statement published to their website.

"This bill does nothing to protect women or girls in sport," Dickson continued. "It is reprehensible and harmful fear-mongering aimed at transgender children. Arkansas needs to support young Arkansans - not target a vulnerable group for political gamesmanship and at the expense of all young people."

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"These measures target transgender and nonbinary people for discrimination, such as by barring or criminalizing healthcare for transgender youth, barring access to the use of appropriate facilities like restrooms, restricting transgender students' ability to fully participate in school and sports, allowing religiously-motivated discrimination against trans people, or making it more difficult for trans people to get identification documents with their name and gender," the ACLU said of the proposed transgender bans in Arkansas, and of similar efforts across the country.

"These bills are part of a coordinated and well-funded strategy being pushed by anti-LGBTQ groups and, if passed, will cause serious harm to all young people in Arkansas."

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