Arkansas governor signs transgender sports ban into law

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

The Republican governor made the state the second so far this year to enact such a restriction, despite objections from medical and child-welfare groups that it would have devastating impacts on transgender youth.

“This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events," Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office.

Republicans in at least 20 state legislatures have been pushing for similar bans this year. Mississippi’s governor signed a prohibition into law earlier this month. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem had initially said she would sign similar legislation sent to her but has since pushed for changing it to exclude college sports.

Arkansas' law covers K-12 as well as collegiate sports.

Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing transgender students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling as a lawsuit plays out.

Arkansas' law, if it isn't blocked by a legal challenge, will take effect this summer.

Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press