Picking on transgender children is so 2021, but Arkansas lawmakers aren’t exactly known for being current. On Tuesday, Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), whom we thought had moved on to worrying about children identifying as house pets, was back on her bullshit. Following the lead of the patriot front that is the Conway School Board, Bentley and her co-sponsor, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) filed a bill to get all up in your kids’ underpants.
House Bill 1156 would require public school students to match the genitals they had at birth with the sex designation of the bathrooms and locker rooms they’re using at school now. And any room assignments for overnight trips have to match students’ at-birth genitals, too. There are no specific provisions in the bill for students with ambiguous genitalia, but students who don’t want to comply with this super creepy bill can request a single occupancy bathroom or locker room.
Bentley told Will Langhorne at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the bill aims to prevent sexual assault and rape in school bathrooms. Reality check: This is not a thing. When a similar bathroom bill was pitched in 2021, its supporters could cite no instances of a transgender student sexually assaulting a classmate in Arkansas bathroom stalls. None. Zero. But Arkansas conservatives never let facts get in the way of a good opportunity to shove their haughty sanctimony down everyone’s throats.
The bill doesn’t stipulate how these new regulations might be enforced. Will hall monitors be stationed at bathroom doors to check birth certificates? That part is unclear, but the punishment for violations is laid out precisely. If it’s passed, schools that violate this bill would be docked 5% of their foundational funding for the next year.
This is the second dick-move bill targeting transgender Arkansans filed this session. Filed earlier this month, Senate Bill 43 is a cut-and-paste job identical to other laws being proposed in other states. It would define drag show performances as “adult-oriented businesses,” effectively keeping them out of most mainstream venues. The bill also seemingly targets transgender people who dare to show themselves in public.
“The language of SB43 would affect not only people who dress in drag, but also transgender people who dress according to their gender identity,” according to a joint statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and 17 other local civil rights advocacy groups.
We’d hoped Arkansas church ladies would have moved on to new faux outrages by now, and were particularly excited about the possibility of Bentley taking the fight to furries in 2023. Natch.
A legal challenge to the Arkansas legislature’s 2021 ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth is ongoing. Should this one pass, it looks like Arkansas taxpayers will be footing the bill to defend another hateful and unconstitutional attack on already marginalized groups.
— ACLU of Arkansas (@ArkansasACLU) January 18, 2023
A handful of other Republicans are signed on as co-sponsors for this school bathroom bill: Karilyn Brown of Sherwood, Cindy Crawford of Fort Smith, DeAnna Hodges of Springdale, Jack Ladyman of Jonesboro, Wayne Long of Bradford, Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs, Mindy McAlindon of Centerton, Josh Miller of Heber Springs, Scott Richardson of Bentonville, Ryan Rose of Van Buren and Dwight Tosh of Jonesboro.
A protest over ongoing attacks on LGBTQ+ rights in Arkansas is scheduled on the state Capitol lawn for 3 p.m.
today. Thursday, Jan. 19.