Arkansas is the latest state to craft legislation to protect female athletes in high school and college from competing against biological men who describe themselves as transgender women.
The announcement follows President Joe Biden’s executive order on Jan. 20 that expanding protections for women under the federal statute Title IX prohibiting discrimination against women because of their biological sex at all schools that receive federal funding would now include men who want to live as women.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports,” Biden’s order states.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced earlier this week the proposed legislation.
Local television station KATV reported on the development:
Rutledge said at a news conference Monday that the order hurts female athletes. The drafted legislation, known as the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation For Sports Act, or GIRLS Act, would make it illegal for student-athletes who are identified as male on their birth certificate to play on women’s teams.
A draft of the proposed bill cites chromosomal, hormonal and physiological differences between male and female sexes. If passed, the bill would apply to K-12 schools in Arkansas. It would allow the attorney general to sue any school that violates the bill and ban them from receiving funds from a public source for one year.
“I want to send a strong message to President Biden and his administration that here in Arkansas, we intend to require schools to prohibit biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams,” Ruteledge said.
“It will create equal and fair competition by limiting girls’ and women’s sports to girls and women, as evidenced by an original birth certificate,” Rutledge said. “We don’t want common sense to be shadowed by so-called political correctness.”
Arkansas state Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. DeAnn Vaught said they will sponsor the bill. Irvin spoke at Rutledge’s press conference, according to the KATV report.
“Let me just tell you about the difference between a male and a female,” Irvin said. “We all know there are differences. There are biological and scientific differences … and the message is really, really clear. The message is for girls, ‘you deserve equal opportunities, except in sports.’ That’s not acceptable.”
The state’s Republican Women Legislative Caucus is working on another bill that addresses similar issues, Irvin said at the news conference.
“I’m excited that Arkansas is going to have a strong voice in this national debate, and this national dialogue,” she said. “Every little girl that’s out there watching, I want you to know that all of us up here are fighting for you.”
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