CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted Richardson
Wednesday night, the City Council of Fayetteville, Arkansas will consider a new law that will protect citizens against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status, or veteran status. The bill has prompted fierce opposition from conservatives, including at a meeting earlier this month, and now Michelle Duggar of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting is warning Fayetteville residents that transgender people are child predators and that the law will somehow protect that predatory behavior.
In a new robocall obtained by the Fayetteville Flyer, Duggar claims that the bill will “allow men — yes I said men — to use womens’ and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.” She goes onto describe “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female” who would enter these private areas.
Duggar also suggests that gender identity is the “preference of an adult” and that should never be placed over “the safety and innocence of a child.” Listen to the call:
The call claims to be paid for by FreeFayetteville, which is the name the Arkansas Family Council is using to campaign against the bill. On its website, the Council also suggests that the bill will somehow infringe on religious liberty because it will be possible “for businesses to face criminal prosecution if suspected of discrimination.”
Another vocal opponent of the bill has been Jeremy Flanagan, pastor at Pathway Baptist Church. In addition to predatory claims about bathroom behavior, Flanagan also claimed that the bill could lead to women going topless at public swimming pools, telling the City Council, “I don’t want to explain that to my nine-year-old.”
Alderman Matthew Petty, who proposed the nondiscrimination bill, told the Fayetteville Flyer that opponents “are spreading this misinformation because they are skilled political strategists and they believe it is an effective proxy for their bigotry.” City Attorney Kit Williams also responded that such threats about predatory behavior are “nothing more than fear-mongering.” “Transgender people,” he added, “deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety.”
In advance of the city’s decision, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville updated its own nondiscrimination protections to include gender identity.
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh Duggar, serves as executive director for FRCAction, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council. The Arkansas Family Council is also affiliated with FRC.