LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new bill looks to further criminalize adults for undressing around a minor of the opposite sex, specifically in public changing facilities.
Arkansas legislators stated the bill is to further protect children in our state. The bill filed in the Senate would make it a felony on the second offense according to State Senator, Ben Gilmore.
The bill states you could be criminally charged for knowingly exposing yourself to a minor of the opposite sex.
Although, some people in the transgender community aren’t pleased with the wording being proposed.
I spoke with a transgender woman who tells me this could directly impact her and others.
“Initially I am appalled seeing something like this,” Jess Disney, who identifies as a transgender woman, said.
“The main motive is to protect children,” Sen. Ben Gilmore said.
A new bill filed Wednesday states adults could be charged with a felony if they are found guilty of indecency with a minor of the opposite sex in a public changing facility.
That means a restroom, bathroom, locker room or shower room.
“If you are an adult that end up in a restroom with a child, you need to have a reason as to why you are there,” Gilmore said.
“This law would not affect anybody else here in the state of Arkansas besides those who identify as transgender,” Disney said.
Ben Gilmore said there are many exceptions in the bill.
They include if you are a parent, guardian or family member of a child under the age of 7.
Also included are those who are doing maintenance or an inspection of the changing facility, performing medical assistance, a person authorized to take care of the child needing assistance and law enforcement needing to accompany someone in custody.
“We are not capturing a lot of individuals that maybe mean no harm or anything else, but we just want to make sure we are protecting children,” Gilmore stated.
“I don’t see the necessity of adding further definition to this to target a specific group and amending this bill so much further whenever it is when it is already covered by the initial bill,” Disney said.
Jess Disney identifies as a transgender woman, and she said when she first read the bill, she was stunned.
“It makes me upset to see further anti-trans legislation be put forth in our state legislature,” Disney said.
Senator Gilmore however, disagrees.
“It is anti-criminal. So, if you are engaging with any sort of questionable activity around a minor, you should be concerned,” Gilmore said.
The bill was just filled Wednesday, so it will still have to go before committee.