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Conway School District issues anti-trans policies, community reacts

The Conway School Board voted on new bathroom use and overnight trips regulations based on a student's assigned sex at birth— the decision received mixed reactions.

CONWAY, Ark. — The Conway School Board voted on Tuesday to issue new regulations on bathroom use and overnight hotel stays, based on a student's sex assigned at birth.

The guidance was first presented last month, and the board had just about 30 days to read over and listen back to the public's response before voting on Tuesday.

Hundreds expressed their opinion leading up to the vote, which resulted in a mixed, but strong reaction among residents.

"It makes me feel sad because I personally know many transgender young women and young men, and I know the difficulty of their journey," said Conway resident and mom Linda Tyler.

Tyler added that she's hoping the policy can change back, and added, "I think that implementing policies like this puts barriers and boundaries around inclusivity and diversity."

Some members of the LGBTQ+ community in the audience also spoke out against the new policy, protesting in the auditorium after the vote.

One parent of a transgender child shared that after this vote, they plan to move out of state.

But many of the people who showed up, and almost the entire school board, said that they're proud of the decision.

RELATED: Conway School District proposes anti-trans policies against students

One Conway parent shared, "A "boy" coming into the restroom with my daughter doesn't sit well with me as a dad." Much of the audience applauded in response.

State Senator Jason Rapert also came to support the new gender restrictions Tuesday night.

"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. I am proud of the school board members," Rapert said.

On top of the bathroom restrictions, the board voted on the same-gender guidance for overnight hotel room assignments.

The board also agreed to ban a few books that discuss LGBTQ+ romances after deeming the books "inappropriate."

But for many, the conversation doesn't end with tonight's vote.

"I'm signed up to speak next month. 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," Tyler said.

But there are still gray areas after the vote; this included no clear answer for whether any accommodations will be made for transgender students who need to use the bathroom.

There were also still questions on how Title IX, rules against discrimination based on sex, may come into play.

The board declined to comment on the hours of discussion that went into these policies.

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