Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill into law that bans biological males from competing in sports designated for women or girls. The state Senate officially delivered Senate Bill 354 to Hutchinson on Tuesday after the legislation passed both chambers with strong support.
In a statement shared with The Christian Post on Thursday, Hutchinson said:
“ … I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully. This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”
Also known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” SB 354 states, in part, that any “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic team or sport that is expressly designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.”
The bill separates any sport “sponsored by a school” into the categories of male, female and coed, specifying that these three divisions will be “based on biological sex.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm that represents challenges to transgender policies that infringe on girls’ sports, celebrated the success of SB 354.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb in a statement on Tuesday.
“We thank Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. Sonia Barker for leading this effort in Arkansas and commend the legislature for passing the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act so that those opportunities will be protected across the state and so female athletes have a legal recourse if their rights are violated.”
The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the bill in an action alert released earlier this year, calling it “pure discrimination through and through.”
“This bill would deny trans students the right to play sports consistent with who they are, and it won’t have its supposedly intended effect of making anything fairer,” stated the ACLU of Arkansas.
“That’s because this bill isn’t really about equity or fairness. In fact, it’s not even about sports. Just like every other anti-trans bill, Senate Bill 354 is all about the erasure and exclusion of transgender Arkansans.”
Recently, multiple states have considered legislation to prevent biological males who identify as females from competing in state-sponsored sporting events set aside for women or girls. Earlier this month, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed the Mississippi Fairness Act, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. In a statement, Reeves said the law came in response to President Joe Biden issuing an executive order allowing, among other things, trans-identified individuals to enter private spaces designated for the opposite sex and for boys who identify as female to compete in girls’ sports.
“I never imagined dealing with this, but POTUS left us no choice. One of his first acts was to sign an EO encouraging transgenderism in children,” Reeves said on Twitter at the time.