During a school board debate over trans rights in Conway, Arkansas, a speaker declared that LGBTQ students “deserve death.”
“God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what they should not be doing,” the speaker said. “They invent ways of doing evil, but let me remind you that those who do such things deserve death.”
“The LGBT community not only continues to do these very things but also approves of those who practice them.”
According to the person who posted the speaker’s video on TikTok, the man spoke just before a trans sophomore, and despite his grim words, “the school board sat there and did NOTHING.”
At the meeting, the board voted to force trans students to use bathrooms based on their sex assigned at birth (or else a single occupancy space), decided that roommates for overnight hotel stays on school trips would also be based on sex assigned at birth, and banned two books from schools that feature trans characters.
Debra Hale-Shelton for the Arkansas Times wrote that the meeting felt like “a Trump rally or a 1950s Pentecostal sermon on hellfire and damnation.”
Hale-Shelton added that no other school district in Arkansas has such restrictive anti-trans policies and that Conway is likely facing a lawsuit.
“It makes me feel sad because I personally know many transgender young women and young men, and I know the difficulty of their journey,” Linda Tyler, a Conway mom, and resident told THV 11. “I think that implementing policies like this puts barriers and boundaries around inclusivity and diversity.”
The board voted unanimously to ban trans students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, with many who attended the meeting speaking out in support of the policy.
One speaker received applause when he said the thought of a “boy” sharing a bathroom with his daughter “doesn’t sit well with me as a dad.”
State Sen. Jason Rapert (R) spoke in support of the anti-trans policies as well.
“For the first time in my entire representation in the Arkansas Senate have I ever felt led to come and speak at a school board meeting,” Rapert told THV 11. “I am proud of the school board members.”
There were also student protestors at the meeting, who held Pride flags and chanted “shame.”
According to someone who says attended the meeting, the protestors were escorted out.
Questions have arisen about whether these policies violate Title IX and anti-discrimination laws. President Joe Biden signed an executive order last year that said that Title IX’s ban on discrimination in schools because of sex bans discrimination based on LGBTQ identities because it’s impossible to discriminate against LGBTQ people without taking sex into account.
One thing seems certain: This fight is far from over.
“I’m signed up to speak next month,” Tyler said. “And I intend to continue to be a part of this community and to speak out when I feel like I am led to do so.”