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'We'll just leave' | Parent reacts to new anti-trans policies at Arkansas school

New policies for transgender students at Conway public schools have left some parents frustrated, disappointed, and heartbroken by the decision.

CONWAY, Ark. — The Conway community voiced their reactions after new policies for Conway Public School transgender students were voted in favor of on Tuesday night. 

For Vicki Crockett, a parent of a transgender student in the district, the changes have been less than ideal.

"I have a younger child who is transgender, and she's a senior this year," Crockett explained.

Those changes, she said are so frustrating, that they don't even plan on staying in Conway for very long now.

"We're gonna get ready to get out of here in the spring," she said. "So when Lily graduates, we'll just leave."

The new policies will focus on transgender students using the bathrooms of the gender assigned to them at birth. 

Additionally, if they're on school trips, hotel room assignments will work the same way. 

The board also agreed to ban a few books that discuss LGBTQ+ romances.

"They're not something to be scared of. They're not something to be excluded," Crockett said. "They're not something to be locked away, they're just kids."

Members of the school board declined to talk to us after Tuesday's board meeting, so we reached out to all seven members individually for a comment. Two responded, telling us to reach out to the Superintendent— so we did.

Superintendent of Conway Public Schools Jeff Collum responded to multiple items in his statement, including a video trending online that showed a member of the audience at Tuesday's board meeting saying that those in the LGBTQ+ community "deserve death."

The Superintendent's message reads as follows:

“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 a contentious comment 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.”

Crockett disagreed with that statement and said that she hopes steps are taken to overturn this decision.

"There are other kids in school now that this impacts on a great deal," she said. "I hope that there are lawsuits and I hope they change their mind."

For now, her mind has been made. Her family will be leaving Arkansas once her daughter graduates, saying it will be what's best for them.

"Just remember to be more welcoming to people," Crockett added. "They already feel themselves set apart by the notion that they're transgender."

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