Filmmaker criticizes Arkansas bathroom bill | Arkansas Blog

Filmmaker criticizes Arkansas bathroom bill

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JAY RUSSELL: Concerns about 'bathroom bill.' - WIKIPEDIA
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  • JAY RUSSELL: Concerns about 'bathroom bill.'

An Arkansas native who works in the film industry says a pending "bathroom bill" would damage Arkansas as a place to make movies.

SB 774 by Sen. Linda Collins-Smith may come back up before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. She pulled it down last week lacking votes that day for approval. Her bill would prohibit use of public restrooms and changing rooms by people whose birth gender didn't match that of the facility. It's virtually identical to the legislation in North Carolina that has made that state a pariah with many national organizations and corporations. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has expressed his reluctance to legislative adoption of such legislation this session.

Jay Russell, an Arkansas native filmmaker whose work includes "End of the Line," which was filmed in Arkansas, has written committee members about the bill. He said it would be damaging to the state' perception in the entertainment industry and harm the state's small but growing movie business.

β€œIt would be a shame for Producers and Directors to disregard the State as a location choice and production base simply because of a perception of bigotry and bias,” he writes.
He says, too, that the legislation could harm universities hoping to attract "diverse candidates of all backgrounds, genders and identities from all over the world."

James Thweatt, an Arkansas filmmaker who provided the letter to me, says he'll deliver it to committee members on Monday.

Meanwhile, expect to hear more from human rights advocates, too, about the 'Bathroom Lite" bill by Rep. Bob Ballinger, which passed the House Friday. It expands the indecent exposure statute in a way aimed at transgender people. The key is that it denies transgender people their identity by defining their sex as gender at birth. As practical matter, the scenario it envisions β€” intentional exposure of genitals to another β€” is unlikely. But it's an effort at marginalization failing the push for a broader bill.

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