LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new bill being proposed at the Arkansas State Capitol is being accused of targeting transgender teens.
House Bill 1749 was filed and aims to require teachers to refer to students by the name and sex on their birth certificates.
HB1749 was filed by State Representative Mary Bentley because she received concerns from stressed-out teachers dealing with some students,
“They have students that were changing their gender that they identified with and change their name multiple times in a year.”
Trystan Lawhon identifies as transgender and non-binary. They are also a former educator in Arkansas and believe this bill is born out of ignorance on transgender issues, “They craft laws or bills that I respond of that year without actually getting any information.”
State Representative Tippi McCollough also disagrees with this bill, but for a different reason, “To me it’s just overreach and if there’s no need for this.”
Lawhon says this bill would be legalized bullying and would justify those actions for people who may not agree with transgender identification, “And they could refer to this bill and say oh I have to refer you by the sex that’s on your birth certificate.”
Bentley acknowledges why people may get the idea that this bill is hurtful but she says it’s not her intent.
She says there are steps that can be taken by people who are serious about making life changes but her bill is more for people who are flippant about it,
“It’s not the intent of the bill and our people maybe don’t understand they can change the birth certificate so it’s not I’m not trying to be hateful or mean and I see people’s concerns I was not trying to bash anybody,” Bentley said.
McCollough says teachers are well-trained to handle students and their needs, no matter how they choose to identify, “They’re the ones that know best how to deal with students and to make that student feel not only am not only give them an education but make them feel comfortable to make them feel welcome in the classroom.”