Arkansas signs law restricting women's athletics to women competitors only

Governor Asa Hutchinson confirmed that Arkansas has joined the ranks of several GOP-led states that have moved to save women's sports.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

Arkansas has joined those states that have banned biological males from competing in women's sports. In a statement issued Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson confirmed that Arkansas has joined the ranks of several GOP-led states that have moved to save women's sports.

Arkansas bill SB354, the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, was signed, according to Hutchinson, after having heard from "hundreds of constituents on this issue."

"I signed the law as a fan of women's sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully," Hutchinson said. "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. 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."

State's that have undertaken legislation to restrict women's sports to women, whether it's been passed or is making its way through the legislature, include some 20 states.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was poised to sign a bill that would have banned biological males from women's sports, but was somewhat cowed from passing that legislation due to threats from the NCAA. The NCAA, which governs collegiate sports, has threatened states that would issue these measures to save women's sports.

The NCAA Board of Governors has been petitioned by over 500 college athletes to withhold the holding of championships in states that do not allow women to compete solely against women. Their argument is based in the NCAA's nondiscrimination policy. The NCAA has allowed gender-nonconforming biological males to compete against women in college sports since 2011.

Two student, trans rights activists, who run track and field, Aliya Schenck and Alana Bojar, issued a statement that said:

"All student-athletes should be safe and protected when competing in NCAA championships. Your silence on this issue is only allowing more states to pass these bills. We urge you to act now and make a strong statement against these bills, saying that the NCAA will not host championships in states that openly discriminate against LGBTQI+ athletes."

The NCAA told the AP that "The NCAA believes in fair and respectful student-athlete participation at all levels of sport. The Association’s transgender student-athlete participation policy and other diversity policies are designed to facilitate and support inclusion. The NCAA believes diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment and it encourages its member colleges and universities to support the well-being of all student-athletes."

Save Women's Sports, "a coalition that seeks to preserve biology-based eligibility standards for participation in female sports," has issued their own letter to the NCAA, also signed by hundreds of athletes.

They say that the NCAA's "mandate is fair competition. But there's nothing fair about allowing biological male athletes to win titles, podium spots, opportunities, and scholarships that are supposed to be for women." They call on the NCAA to reverse their 2011 policy, saying the "NCAA must change its policy to protect the integrity of women’s sports and a fair playing field for female athletes."

Founder of Save Women's Sports and medal-winning powerlifter Beth Stelzer said that "You don't need to be especially political or religious to believe that women's sports should only be for adult biological females. Common sense and science tell us that men and women are different. Because of those differences, girls and women deserve the opportunity to compete, bond, train, suffer and enjoy victory without the presence of male bodies in their competitions or locker rooms."


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