Arkansas has become the fourth U.S. state to implement a law that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity in public schools, The Associated Press reports.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) and applies to multi-person restrooms and locker rooms in public and charter schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.
According to a statement by Huckabee Sanders’ spokesperson, Alexa Henning, the governor is committed to protecting and educating children, and believes that schools are not a place for “the radical left’s woke agenda.”
“Arkansas isn’t going to rewrite the rules of biology just to please a handful of far-left advocates,” Henning added.
The new law also requires schools to provide reasonable accommodations for transgender students, such as single-person restrooms.
However, opponents of the measure argue that it does not provide schools with funding to make such accommodations.
Superintendents, school administrators, and teachers who violate the prohibition could face fines of at least $1,000 from a state panel, and parents will have the right to file private lawsuits if the new law is not enforced.
Republican Representative Mary Bentley, who sponsored the bill, stated earlier this year that “each child in our schools has a right to privacy and to feel safe and to feel comfortable in the bathroom they need to go to.”
Similar laws are already in place in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, and lawsuits have been filed against the restrictions in the latter two states, AP notes.
Bills in Idaho and Iowa have also been passed by the legislature and are awaiting their governor’s signatures.
The new law in Arkansas will not go into effect until 90 days after the current legislative session ends on April 7, but will be in place before the 2023-24 school year begins.