HRC Places Anti-Hutchinson Ad During Arkansas NCAA Game

by HRC staff

Post submitted by Lucas Acosta (he/him), former Deputy Director of Communications, Politics

LITTLE ROCK, AR. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced it has purchased airtime for an ad denouncing the actions of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, among others, during the University of Arkansas-Oral Roberts University March Madness Sweet 16 game this weekend. Yesterday, Gov. Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 354, an anti-transgender bill that bans transgender women and girls from participating in sports (including extracurricular and school sports at the elementary, middle, high school and collegiate level) consistent with their gender identity. Governor Hutchinson became only the second governor to sign anti-transgender legislation this session, after two conservative governors rejected similar legislation in Utah and South Dakota.

The ad has been purchased to air locally across Arkansas (Little Rock and Ft. Smith markets) as hundreds of thousands of Arkansans watch the University of Arkansas and underdog Oral Roberts University duke it out for a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.

“Hutchinson’s shameful decision to attack transgender children to score a few political points is absolutely abhorrent, and rooted in nothing but his animus towards LGBTQ people. Despite numerous opportunities, not once were they able to name a single transgender athlete in the state of Arkansas. These bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and the Human Rights Campaign will be here to make sure Governor Hutchinson and any elected officials pushing for these discriminatory laws are held accountable.”

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David

WATCH THE AD HERE

The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 174 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 95 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like SB 354, ban transgender girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. Governors and legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason Arkansas needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 60 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org) and not authorized

by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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