ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — An Arkansas bill that mandates public school students use the bathroom of the gender in which they were born has passed the House and is headed for the Senate.
HB1156 would impact all pre-K through 12th-grade public schools in the state.
According to State Rep. Mindy McAlindon, the bill was filed to ensure the safety of all students. She’s heard from parents both for and in opposition to the bill, and she thinks it should pass.
“If someone who may be thinking of transitioning comes into the girls’ locker room or goes into the boys’ locker room, it may become uncomfortable, either for the girls, boys or that person,” said McAlindon.
The bill also mandates only students of the same gender assigned at birth can share sleeping quarters on overnight trips.
One of the provisions regarding bathroom use included in the bill allows for accommodations for trans people. An example would be a nurse’s office.
“There may be other options depending on the size of the school and where the school is located. You may have some other facilities that they can set aside for a single-use bathroom,” said McAlindon.
Shawna Wegner is an Arkansas mother. She has two transgender sons who are still in school. Her oldest son has been bullied because of his identity.
For a period of time, her oldest son was not using the bathroom the entire day he was at school. He would wait until he got home. She thinks if the bathroom bill passes, it could make the situation worse.
Wegner is worried it will create issues like gender dysphoria, mental struggles and self-harm in trans children, including her own.
“It’s going to make them feel like they’re less human than they are. They are just like everybody else, but they’re not being treated like they are,” said Wegner.
Another section of the bill would make administrators and teachers responsible if the rules were broken.
If a teacher or administrator is found non-compliant, they face a $1,000 fine.
The bill has passed the House. The Senate Education Committee will discuss the bill on Wednesday.