LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill making its way through Arkansas legislature could require schools to designate bathrooms based on birth-assigned gender.
House Bill 1156 would make restrooms, changing rooms, and overnight rooms on trips exclusively male or female.
Rep. Mary Bentley filed the bill a few months ago and said it was to avoid issues like bullying, harassment, or sexual assault.
On the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Clarke Tucker said it does anything but that for students who are transgender.
“Kids who are trans and have to use special bathrooms – they dehydrate themselves and get urinary tract infections so that they can avoid having to use the bathroom,” Tucker said.
Bentley said the bill would apply to public and charter schools that serve Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade students.
She said superintendents, principals and teachers would be held accountable and if they do not comply, they would face a $1,000 fine.
The ACLU of Arkansas released a statement Monday following the bill passing in the senate.
“HB1156 is part of an ongoing and coordinated national attack targeting trans youth. This discriminatory bill is not only unconstitutional, but it also puts trans youth in harm’s way and creates a hostile environment that could lead to bullying, harassment, and exclusion. Instead of listening to the experts, the medical community, and the affected youth and their families, the legislature is taking its lead from anti-LGBTQ outsiders. It’s past time for our elected officials to start listening to the people they represent, especially those most affected by their actions. We stand with trans youth and will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of all Arkansans.”– Holly Dickson, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas
An amendment now must pass back on the House side before the bill can go to Governor Sarah Sanders for signature. Bentley said the amendment is a technical change and does not alter any significant contents of the bill.