The Conway School District’s contentious board meeting had already drawn public backlash over the anti-trans policies that were being considered. But a viral video capturing the speaker’s fire-and-brimstone sermon set social media ablaze.
“God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what they should not be doing,” the gray-haired man says in a video clip recorded by a meeting attendee. “They invent ways of doing evil. But let me remind you that those who do such things deserve death,” the speaker bellows as he reads off a prepared speech. At that point, some people in the audience turn their heads and exchange looks, seemingly surprised at the speaker’s rhetoric.
“The LGBT community, not only continues to do these very things, but also approves of those who practice them,” the speaker claims.
That clip ends as the man continues ranting about the LGBTQ+ community.
Social media users were quick to slam the hateful outburst.
“Just someone at a Conway school board meeting saying LGBTQ deserve death according to his version of Christianity,” an Arkansas resident tweeted.
“SHAME on the Conway school board, and SHAME on the hateful, deluded spirit of transphobes in my home state,” tweeted graphic novelist and Arkansas native Nate Powell.
In a separate video of the speech captured by another attendee, the unidentified man, who was wearing a light blue shirt and jeans, closes by saying, “God loves everyone.”
“He even loves those of the LGBT community, but he doesn’t like the practices or immoral standards,” the man adds. The video cuts off after he says, “The penalty for that decision is…” When the footage returns, the man is no longer at the microphone and the audience is clapping.
At the Tuesday meeting, the school board voted to pass two new policies that require children to go by their gender assigned at birth when using restrooms and making overnight travel arrangements, local outlet THV 11 reported.
Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert made an appearance and spoke in favor of the bans.
“Tonight, you’re voting on truth, not just policy,” he read from a prepared statement. “I’m here tonight to support the Conway school board taking responsible and appropriate action by supporting two proposed policies before you.”
“God made males and females, and we appreciate and recognize the differences between the two sexes. The overwhelming majority of people in this community support the Conway school district adhering to those facts in your policies, your rules, your regulations,” Rapert continued before going on a rant about “horror stories” of the “transgender political movement.”
The lawmaker said he’s supporting the board’s “two common sense policies” in order to “reject the lies about sex and gender.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Rapert said that, in his view, discussing LGBTQ+ issues is a political move even by merely repeating the phrase.
“[I]t is a political movement. Science is still clear—it is scientifically impossible to turn a woman into a man or a man into a woman. Prove me wrong,” he said.
He said children need counseling to overcome gender dysphoria, “which was always done prior to the Left creating the LGBTQ political movement.”
“Parents and school staff must do what is right and stop letting a very small minority of the population force their warped ideologies be given center stage and harm other people,” he said. “The Conway School District simply said you are not going to force us to allow boys dressed as girls to use the female bathrooms or stay overnight with them on school trips. This is sane and rational.”
According to local reports, the anti-trans policies were introduced during a September board meeting.
“Sex means the physical condition of being male or female based on genetics and physiology, as identified on the individual’s original birth certificate,” the policy states, according to THV 11. “To ensure privacy and safety, each district school shall require every multiple occupancy restroom or changing area designated as follows: 1) For the exclusive use of the male sex, or 2) For the exclusive use of the female sex.”
“Each district school shall provide a reasonable accommodation to any individual who does not comply with the provisions of this policy,” the rule added. “A reasonable accommodation shall be access to a single occupancy restroom or changing room.”
Similar instructions apply to overnight stays.
“The Conway, Ar[kansas] school board is literally this cruel,” a social media user tweeted. “Trans boys and girls will be forced to use the bathroom on their birth certificate. And there are even entire buildings on campus without… even one single stall bathroom. My heart breaks for those kids.”
Despite implementing the two new policies, Conway public schools told The Daily Beast that gender-oriented restroom use and overnight stays aren’t issues that students and staff have frequently experienced.
On top of the restrictions, the school board voted to ban two books: the anthology Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin and the young-adult novel Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, the Arkansas Times reported. The books were deemed inappropriate because of their LGBTQ+-related content.
The ACLU of Arkansas decried the entire board meeting.
“Tonight the Conway School Board voted to ban books—and worse—to single out students for unfair treatment,” the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU tweeted. “These policies are not original but they are dangerous. We unequivocally condemn their actions.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Conway Public Schools Communication Specialist Heather Kendrick said “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,” she elaborated, “and we want to be clear that CPSD does not endorse these comments or any comments made by patrons during public comments.”
Kendrick continued: “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.”