The family of Walmart founder Sam Walton, heirs to the Walmart fortune, created a $1 million fund for organizations that support LGBTQ+ rights in Arkansas. The state has restricted trans people’s rights in recent legislation.
In April, Arkansas’ legislature passed a law banning doctors from providing gender-affirming health care to trans youth. It also prevents state funds or insurance coverage for gender-affirming health care for trans minors. Lawmakers overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill.
“Our state is in a moment of reflection where each of us must send a message of acceptance to the LGBTQ community that says ‘You belong here,’” Olivia and Tom Walton said in a statement, reported the Associated Press. “It is also a time for action by recognizing LGBTQ Arkansans face growing challenges that need community-driven solutions.”
The family’s foundations will provide grants of $25,000 to LGBTQ+ causes. The Arkansas Community Foundation will oversee the Walton family’s fund.
The Walton family owns more than 50 percent of Walmart, which was founded in the state in 1962.
Last week, Walmart came under scrutiny for the company’s contributions to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign.
“What’s not cute is giving more than $150,000 to Mitch McConnell and other GOP Senators who are actively blocking the Equality Act from becoming law,” wrote Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), whose child is non-binary.
In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit as a result of the recent Arkansas law.
“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said in the press release at the time. “Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect. No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves — but this law would do both. We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their families.”
The law goes into effect on July 28 unless it's blocked by a federal judge.