CONWAY, Ark. – The Conway school board approved two measures targeting transgender people Tuesday night.
Some voiced support for the decisions, while others said they worry about transgender students’ mental health. Some of the rhetoric used by at least one speaker was called transphobic by community members.
The measures limit bathroom access for trans students. Accommodations on school trips will also be limited to their biological sex instead of their stated gender. The other removes two books about trans kids from the school library.
The board unanimously approved these decisions at a packed meeting Tuesday evening, according to content partner The Arkansas Times. People from opposite ideological spectrums shared their thoughts at the meeting. Many supported the decisions on moral grounds.
One man’s speech is being criticized by some as being transphobic. In a video obtained by KARK, he appeared to say trans people “deserve death.”
“Let me remind you that those who do such things deserve death,” the man said. “The LGBTQ community continues to do these very things and also approves of those who practice them.”
PFLAG Little Rock is an organization that assists people in the LGBTQ community. In a statement, a spokesperson said these comments should not be treated lightly.
“What happened in the Conway school board meeting last night was a perfect example of the bigotry that lives in our great state of Arkansas. PFLAG Little Rock chapter is committed to cultivating safe schools for our children in this state. Comments professing death for LGBTQ+ youth are inciting violence and dangerous. They should NOT be treated as free speech. Founded in 1973, PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. PFLAG’s network of hundreds of chapters and more than 325,000 members and supporters works to create a caring, just, and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. This vast network is cultivated, resourced, and serviced by the staff of PFLAG National, the National Board of Directors, and the all-volunteer Regional Directors Council. For additional resources and help, visit www.PFLAG.org“
A Conway Public School District spokesperson sent a statement in response to the video:
“In an attempt to allow public voices to be heard, the Conway Public Schools Board of Education allows patrons to speak for a specified amount of time to comment on current agenda items. While the Conway School Board appreciates the insight and perspectives given in these comments, the personal narratives of individual patrons do not represent the school district or school board’s feelings or stances on issues. Patron comments simply allow for public concerns and ideas to be heard and processed by the board before decisions are made. The Conway School District is aware that a video of contentious comments made by a patron last night is circulating on social media and we want to be clear that CPSD does not endorse these comments or any comments made by patrons during public comments. The Conway School Board strives to make decisions that are in the best interest of all Conway students and believes the new policies will do that. The board listened and took all views and perspectives into account when making last night’s decisions.”