Bill Seeks To Ban Transgender Girls, Women From Arkansas School Sports Teams

Feb 22, 2021

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaks alongside state lawmakers Monday at the Arkansas State Capitol.
Credit Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers have proposed a bill that would make it illegal for schools to allow transgender girls and women to play on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

The legislation, called the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports (GIRLS) Act, is sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio. State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge introduced the bill at a news conference Monday.

"We don't want common sense to be overshadowed by so-called political correctness, and this bill would ensure the integrity of girls and women in sports," Rutledge said. "This legislation will create a space for women’s sports and will provide opportunities for women to demonstrate their skills, strength and athletic abilities against other females of the same biological stature."

Under the proposed legislation, student athletes would be forced to show their birth certificate to school officials if a complaint is filed against them. Schools that would choose not to comply with the bill’s requirements could face a court order stopping an athlete from playing, and could be liable for damages and attorney’s fees in any lawsuit filed against them.

Rutledge says the legislation is in response to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden allowing transgender girls and women to play on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

"Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or athletic activities. But again, Joe Biden’s executive order hurts the girls and women that Title IX was passed into law to protect," Rutledge said.

When asked, Rutledge said she was not aware of any instances or complaints stemming from transgender girls and women playing on specific sports teams in Arkansas. Sports programs operating outside of elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools that violate the bill’s terms would also face a loss of public funding, including school membership fees, for one year.