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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Arkansas Legislative Watch:House approves bill to make students uses biologically correct restrooms

The Arkansas House on Wednesday approved legislation preventing transgender people at public schools from using bathrooms that match their gender identity'

The bill advanced through the majority-Republican Legislature two years after lawmakers approved restrictions on transgender youth, including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors that has been blocked by a federal judge.

Opponents of the bathroom bill said it's marginalizing transgender students who are already at high risk of bullying, and said it's a sign of misplaced priorities in the Legislature.

The legislation approved by the House on an 80-10 vote applies to multi-person restrooms and locker rooms at public schools and charter schools serving prekindergarten through 12th grades.

Teachers, principals and superintendents who violate the measure could face fines from a state panel, and parents could file lawsuits to enforce the restriction.

The bill now heads to the majority-Republican Senate. The Republican sponsor of the bill said she introduced it after being approached by members of the school board in the central Arkansas city of Conway, which enacted a similar policy last year.

Similar laws have been enacted in Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Lawsuits have been filed challenging the Oklahoma and Tennessee restrictions.

The bathroom bill won initial approval hours after a House committee advanced legislation restricting drag performances. The measure, which now heads to the House for a vote, would make Arkansas the first state to restrict drag shows.

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