It’s probably catnip to the demagogic Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, but the ACLU of Arkansas has blasted her backing of legislation to ban transgender girls from participating in athletics in Arkansas from kindergarten through college.

The ACLU of Arkansas today condemned proposed bills targeting transgender Arkansans, including a proposal by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to ban transgender girls from school sports.

“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,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “This bill does nothing to protect women or girls in sport. 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.”

This week, Rutledge announced she is coordinating with legislators on the “The Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation Sports” Act, which would ban transgender girls from school sports. Legislators have also introduced a constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 16) that would exclude transgender students from school sports. In addition, Senate Bill 347 would criminalize medically necessary health care for  transgender teenagers. Other legislation seeks to elevate religious liberties above all other rights (SJR14 and HJR1024) and allow for refusals of health care to anyone for almost any reason (SB289).

Across the country, state legislators have introduced a wave of anti-trans bills. 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. 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.

The ACLU is challenging a similar ban in Arkansas. If it becomes law (which is likely given the prevailing hateful political climate), it would take a brave plaintiff to file a court action in Darkansas. To date, Rutledge and other sponsors have produced no examples of transgender girls participating in Arkansas sports.

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