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Man says LGBTQ people 'deserve death' at school board meeting in Arkansas

A spokesperson for Conway Public Schools said the district does not endorse the man’s comments.

A man was recorded on video Tuesday night saying LGBTQ people “deserve death” during a school board meeting in Arkansas where several anti-LGBTQ policies were passed. 

“God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what they should not be doing,” says a man whom a district spokesperson identified as Cal Paulson, who is referred to as a local preacher in an article by the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper of Conway, the city in which the school district is located. The video was recorded by a person attending the meeting and verified by NBC News.

“They invent ways of doing evil,” he continues, “but let me remind you that those who do such things deserve death.” 

The video racked up thousands of views on TikTok and prompted swift condemnation online. In an emailed statement, Heather Kendrick, a spokesperson for Conway Public Schools, said the district, which teaches about 10,000 students, does not endorse the man’s comments. 

“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,” Kendrick wrote. “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.” 

The school board approved anti-transgender policies and bans on two books with LGBTQ themes at the meeting. One of the anti-transgender policies requires every school in the district to reserve multiple-occupancy restrooms or changing areas for the “exclusive use” of male or female students according to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The policy also requires that schools provide what is referred to as “reasonable accommodation” in the form of a single-occupancy restroom or changing room to any student who asks for it. 

The other policy approved by the board requires hotel rooms for student trips to be divided only among male and female students according to their sex assigned at birth. Similar to the new bathroom rule, the policy says students who ask for their own hotel rooms because the students cannot comply with the rule should receive them at the district’s expense. 

Board members also voted to remove two LGBTQ books from libraries — “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” and “Felix Ever After,” a love story with a transgender main character. Minutes from a meeting last month show at least one board member agreed with challenges to remove the books. The challenges prompted reviews from a district committee, which recommended that the books stay on the shelves. 

KTHV-TV of Little Rock reported that hundreds of people expressed their opinions about the policies, which were previewed in September amid outcry from community members, leading up to the board’s votes. One of the proponents was Jason Rapert, a Republican state senator who talked about “horror stories” he claimed were related to the “transgender political movement.” 

“God made males and females, and we appreciate and recognize the differences between the two sexes,” he said. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas unequivocally condemned the new rules. 

“Tonight the Conway School Board voted to ban books — and worse — to single out students for unfair treatment,” the group tweeted. “These policies are not original but they are dangerous.”

After the vote, a parent with a trans child said the family plans to leave the state, KTHV reported.

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