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Arkansas transgender student bathroom legislation passes through House committee with few changes



Little Rock, Arkansas – A bill to prevent kids in Pre-K through 12th grade from using restrooms or sleeping in dormitories on field trips with classmates who are not the same gender as them at birth moved through the state house education committee on Tuesday. Additionally, districts would have to offer alternative facilities for transgender children under the proposed law.

House Bill 1156’s original text has been modified in order to assist it to pass. It now holds a superintendent, principal, or teacher accountable with a $1,000 fine and the threat of further sanctions, when it earlier stated that non-complying schools would experience a 5% reduction in state funding.

Recent legislation, according to the ACLU of Arkansas, targets transgender youth.

The bill’s second modification allows direct family members of the opposing sex to share a room while on an overnight school trip.

Rep. Denise Garner, a Democrat, voted against the measure because she felt it increased the danger of bullying and self-harm among transgender youngsters in her area. She added that she worries about the bill’s applicability, particularly the provision of a single-occupancy restroom for affected pupils.

“We’re not fixing a problem. We’re causing more problems with this bill,” Garner said. “I don’t think there’s the facilities to take care of youth. I don’t think there’s a way to monitor the bill. Certainly, superintendents should not be responsible.”
Rep. Mary Bentley, a Republican who is the bill’s sponsor, noted that Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma already have laws of a similar nature. She added that establishing a statewide language will save municipalities like Conway from having to defend themselves in court.

“It really was a distraction in what they were trying to do in educating students,” Bentley said. “This is going to help all of our students not only feel safe but feel comfortable to be able to use the bathroom that they need to when they go to school.”

Bentley stated that the entire house might hear the bill on Thursday, weather permitting.

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