In a matter of one week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed two bills that remove rights for LGBT people — making it easier to discriminate against them in sports and health care.
On March 25, Hutchinson signed a law that bans transgender women and girls from competing in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity, according to Keloland.
Medical and child-ware groups objected to the law, stating that it will have devastating impacts on trans youths, but Hutchinson ignored them.
“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,” Hutchinson said, according to Keloland. “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.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights groups, called Hutchinson’s decision “an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences,” Keloland reported.
“Hutchinson is ignoring the ugly history of states that have dared to pass anti-transgender legislation in years past, and by doing so he is exposing Arkansas to economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation,” President of the HRC Alphonso David said in a statement.
If the law isn’t blocked by a legal challenge, it will take effect this summer. The law also states that if a student suffers from “direct or indirect harm,” they could take the school to court for violating the ban, according to Keloland.
Arkansas’ law, if it isn’t blocked by a legal challenge, would take effect this summer. Under the new law, a student or school who suffers “direct or indirect harm” could take a school to court for violating the ban.
“This law is a discriminatory and shameful attempt by politicians to stigmatize and exclude transgender teens,” American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas Executive Director Holly Dickson said in a statement.
Arkansas is one of three states without a hate crimes law.
The other law Hutchinson signed on March 26 grants doctors the option of refusing to treat a patient because of their religious or moral objections, PBS NewsHour reports. This gives doctors the power to turn away LGBT patients if they so please.
“I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscientious objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people,” Hutchinson said, according to PBS NewsHour. “Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.”
The new law won’t take effect until late this summer as well.
“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” Dickson said, according to PBS NewsHour.
Types of health care that could be cut off include maintaining hormone treatments for transgender patients needing in-patient care for an infection, or grief counseling for same-sex couples. The law could also be used to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, or by physicians' assistants to override patient directives on end-of-life care, as reported by PBS NewsHour.
The HRC created a YouTube video in retaliation for the anti-trans law signed by Hutchinson.
“Trans kids are kids. They don’t deserve this cruelty,” the video says.