Human Rights Campaign Slams Arkansas Senate for Voting to Prohibit Transgender People from Using Public Bathrooms Consistent with Their Gender Identity

by HRC Staff

"The Arkansas House Must Not Advance this Discriminatory Attack Any Further"

Little Rock, Arkansas — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — slammed the Arkansas Senate for passing S.B. 270, legislation that would impose criminal penalties on transgender people for using a bathroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity. The bill was passed despite growing public outrage over anti-transgender legislative attacks in statehouses across the country.

Human Rights State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement today:

“Once again, extremist politicians are showing that nothing - not preserving taxpayer dollars, not common sense, not even common decency - is more important to them than discriminating against transgender people. Transgender people, like all people, need to be able to use public spaces safely, and that includes being able to access restrooms for the same reasons any person needs to be able to use the restroom. This legislation would make it extremely difficult for transgender people to be able to exist in public life, and it invites the same kinds of legal challenges as similar bills, such as North Carolina’s reviled and repudiated HB2, experienced. The Arkansas House must not advance this discriminatory attack any further.”

Across the country, anti-equality politicians are working to pass bills to discriminate against and disrupt the lives of transgender people. This year more than 175 bills have been filed in statehouses across the country that specifically target transgender people - a historical record.

Since the reviled HB2 was passed, and subsequently partially-repealed, in North Carolina, only three states – Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma – have passed legislation mandating anti-transgender discrimination in bathrooms.

While “bathroom bills'' were very popular in 2016, the international condemnation heaped upon HB2 dissuaded many other states — including Texas — from advancing their own legislation. The Associated Press projected that HB2 passed in 2016 could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from loss of business opportunities and impact the lives of countless students. Furthermore, legislation attacking transgender refuses to serve the major interests and needs of communities and families, who now pay the price as the consequences of failed leadership across the state. Transgender youth are denied their right to a public education when they’re prevented from accessing restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, and “bathroom bills” are a violation of both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.

Three months into 2023, HRC is already tracking more than 410 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

So far this year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; four have already become law, in Utah, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Tennessee,

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,

  • 80 curriculum censorship bills and 30 anti-drag performance bills.

Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes are now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since HRC began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people, such as the Club Q shooting that cost the lives of five people, have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization 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.

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