Leslie Rutledge, Republican attorney general of Arkansas, has thrown her weight behind a law to ban transgender kids taking part in school sport, despite being unable to name a single transgender athlete in the state.
GOP official Leslie Rutledge has given her backing to a bill introduced in the state on Monday (22 February) that would mandate discrimination against transgender children at school, similar to copy-pasted bills proposed by Republicans in dozens of states.
The bill would require schools to exclude trans kids from taking part in sports outside of their “biological sex”, flying in the face of a non-discrimination order issued by Joe Biden that directed schools to adopt trans-inclusive policies.
There is no minimum age to the discriminatory measures, meaning that the youngest transgender girls would be barred from sports activities from kindergarten onwards.
Leslie Rutledge claims Arkansas needs a law to stop trans athletes, can’t name any trans athletes
Despite giving her backing to the legislation, Rutledge was not aware of any transgender athletes at all in Arkansas, which has a population of more than three million.
She told news reporters that the move is a “pre-emptive” effort as a response to Biden’s executive order, though there was nothing prior to the order preventing schools from adopting trans-inclusive policies. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has maintained a trans-inclusive stance for several years.
Rutledge claimed: “Joe Biden’s executive order hurts the girls and women that [sex discrimination law] Title IX was passed into law to protect, and so I want to send a strong message to president Joe Biden and his administration, that here in Arkansas we intend to require schools to prohibit biological boys who self identify as girls onto girls sports teams.”
She added: “The proposed legislation is called the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports, also known as the GIRLS Act.
“This legislation is aimed at protecting access to athletic opportunities for girls and young women. It will create equal and fair competition by limiting girls and women’s sports to girls and women, as evidenced by an original birth certificate.
“This applies to all schools, public and private K through 12, as well as post secondary, such as colleges and universities.
“We don’t want common sense to be overshadowed by so-called political correctness and this bill will ensure the integrity of girls and women in sports.”
Republicans have filed a blitz of anti-trans laws
A spate of bills licensing discrimination against transgender children in schools have been submitted across many states in the current legislative session, in a shift away from previous blunt-force ‘bathroom bills’ championed by anti-LGBT+ lawmakers.
LGBT+ activists have condemned the move to make discrimination against young transgender children mandatory, which comes with little in the way of justification and without support from women’s sporting bodies.
Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign said: “This type of legislation is dangerous, exclusionary, hateful, and not necessary.”
Across the eight Olympics in which transgender athletes have been eligible to compete, to date they have racked up a total of zero gold medals, zero silver medals and zero bronze medals.