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Walton family sets up $1M fund for LGBT groups in Arkansas

by The Associated Press | June 10, 2021 at 12:58 p.m.
A spectator waves a rainbow flag on June 15, 2019, during the annual Northwest Arkansas Pride Festival parade on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. The City Council took up a resolution to affirm the city's welcoming of all people, including transgender residents and visitors. (File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff)

LITTLE ROCK — Family members of Walmart founder Sam Walton on Thursday launched a $1 million fund for groups assisting LGBT people in the retail giant's home state of Arkansas, which has enacted measures restricting transgender people's rights.

The new fund is being established with support from the Alice L. Walton Foundation and from Olivia and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation. The fund will distribute grants of $25,000 and more for groups that offer legal, health, education and advocacy services, along with other high-demand needs.

Arkansas Community Foundation will oversee the fund.

The initiative was launched following a legislative session in Arkansas that was marked by new laws restricting the rights of transgender people. The state is being sued over one of those measures, which bans gender confirming treatments for transgender youth. Unless blocked by a federal judge, the ban will take effect July 28.

"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. "It is also a time for action by recognizing LGBTQ Arkansans face growing challenges that need community-driven solutions."

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