LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge proposed legislation this week limiting girls’ and women’s sports to only girls and women as evidenced by an original birth certificate.
The draft legislation is titled The Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports (GIRLS) Act. The goal of the bill is to “protect access to athletic opportunities for girls and women in K-12 and post-secondary institutions,” according to a press release from Rutledge’s office.
“As a mom of a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl, and having grown up playing a number of sports, I know first-hand the benefit that sports has on developing self-discipline, confidence, teamwork and leadership,” AG Rutledge said in a statement. “This proposed legislation would make sure that young women in Arkansas can compete on a level playing field, no matter what sport they choose.”
Rutledge said the GIRLS Act is in response to an executive order from President Joe Biden, which is aimed at combating discrimination based on general identity and sexual orientation. The attorney general said the executive action hurts females and “signaled that it intends to require schools to allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams.”
Catie Hartling, the president of PFLAG of NWA, disagrees with Rutledge’s proposed legislation.
“It’s saying that trans women and trans girls aren’t girls or women, and that’s untrue. All Arkansans who are women, including cisgender and transwomen and intersex folks who identify as women, they’re all women and they deserve to be protected,” Hartling said.
The proposed bill allows anyone who, as a result of a violation of the legislation, is deprived of athletic opportunities or suffers any other harm to seek a court order stopping the violation along with damages and attorney’s fees in a lawsuit against any Arkansas school that violates the legislation. If passed, it would apply to all grades and all schools in Arkansas.
The lead sponsors of the bill are Arkansas State Senator Missy Irvin and State Representative DeAnn Vaught.