SB270 would criminalize adults for knowingly using bathroom that’s different than sex assigned at birth if children are present

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Senate Bill 270 would criminalize adults for staying in a bathroom that does not align with their sex assigned at birth if a child is present.

The first two times someone is charged with staying in the bathroom of the opposite sex with a child present it would be a misdemeanor and on the third time it would be a felony.

The bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Republican State Sen. Bart Hester supports the bill and said it’s not aimed at targeting certain groups of people.

“They walk in, and there’s a child or a minor in there, they need to walk out until there’s no minor in the room,” Hester said. “It’s a real simple, we feel like, basic common-sense bill to protect minors.”

Tien Estell with Intransitive, an organization that supports trans people, said the bill will further hurt the transgender community.

“It would mean that anybody who wanted to harass you outside, going in, into a restroom they will have full legal authority to tell you to get out of that bathroom or they’re calling the police,” Estell said.

Hester said the bill is focused on children being present at the same time as an adult in a bathroom.

“The goal is that you just immediately turn around and walk out until there’s no children present,” Hester said. “If you’re not in the same bathroom that is assigned to you when you were born.”

Sarah Everett, ACLU policy director, said it’s the most extreme bathroom bill in the country.

“It would make a transgender man a sex offender for doing something like washing his hands in the men’s restroom if the minor is present,” Everett said.

SB 270 does include exceptions such as adults taking their own children under the age of 7 years old into the bathroom or giving medical assistance.

The bill will be on the full Senate’s agenda Tuesday.