LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill being referred to by many as the “bathroom bill” in Arkansas is making its way through the legislature, though there is some pushback.
SB270 would criminalize adults knowingly using a restroom opposite of their gender assigned at birth if a child is in the restroom.
According to the Associated Press, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill after it was amended to make it a crime only if the person enters the restroom “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying a sexual desire.”
The committee heard hours of public comment on Tuesday, with a total of three pages of people signed up to speak against it.
15-year-old Samuel Asmus spoke in opposition to the bill, saying he feels it is an unnecessary attack on the transgender community.
“There are real people who do things to children that should be charged and sentenced, but that is not transgender people peacefully living their life in Arkansas,” he said in an interview after testifying.
Sponsors of the bill, Sen. John Payton and Rep. Cindy Crawford said the bill is for everyone, not just those associating with a different gender than what they were assigned at birth.
“This is not asking you not to go into a bathroom,” Crawford said. “This is asking you to wait if there is a child in the bathroom.”
Payton said the bill specifically clarifies the phrase “knowingly” twice, which should make it easy for people to avoid criminal charges if they have innocent intentions.
“This bill is not broad and just throwing a blanket over everything,” he said. “This is going to be special circumstances.”
The bill is headed to the full House for vote next.