Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has introduced federal legislation that bans schools from affirming the gender identity of transgender students unless their parents allow it to do so. The measure may see a challenge passing through the Democratic Congress, but LGBT advocates believe that it is evidence of a larger problem in Republican Arkansas leaders who target transgender youth through legislations.

According to Arkansas Online, LGBT advocates believe that transgender minors are being used as a "political wedge issue" and that the Arkansas senator's proposed measure would harm LGBT youth who already do not have a supportive family unit. Sen. Cotton's proposed legislation will prevent schools from receiving federal funding unless they obtain parental consent when it comes to affirming a transgender student's gender identity.

One affirming action may include using a transgender student's preferred pronouns. The proposed bill also empowers citizens to file lawsuits if the school districts violate the legislation. This will impact students' access to education, especially in areas where it is needed the most.

The Arkansas senator's proposed measure is already getting backlash from LGBT advocates such as Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization. Warbelow, who is also a parent to a transgender daughter, argued that the proposed legislation only appears to solve an "invented problem," saying that the number of LGBT students who transition in grade school without a supportive family at home is relatively small because of the "reality of living in tier home."

Warbelow explained, "What Tom Cotton's bill [purports] to do is actually take that small number of vulnerable youth and make their lives harder and risk having them kicked out of their homes." She added that if transgender kids are not supported at school and possibly at home, it may lead to depression and at worst, suicidal ideations. She added, "It really is signaling to [Sen. Cotton's] base that he does not value trans people."

The Arkansas senator argued, however, that "Schools should never be allowed to impose radical, harmful ideologies on children-especially without parents' knowledge and consent. My bill will protect students and ensure that parents are in control of their children's education."

Sen. Cotton also argued that keeping parents in the dark about their child transitioning and making transgender transitions easier by keeping such knowledge "is not safe practice for anyone," adding that it violates parental rights. He argued, "This bill asks that schools keep parents informed and receive parental consent before facilitating any important changes-nothing more. This is common sense."

This isn't the first time Arkansas is pushing anti-LGBT measures. Back in March this year, NBC News reported that the state's Senate passed a bill that banned access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors, which included reversible puberty blockers and hormones. American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project deputy director for transgender justice called the measure "the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature."