GLENDALE, Calif. - A protest held outside a Glendale school board meeting took a chaotic turn Tuesday evening.
Multiple groups gathered outside the Glendale Unified School Board building as many protested over the students' right to choose their pronouns. At one point during the dueling protest, punches were thrown and police had to jump in to stop the violence.
The fights prompted police to ask the school board to go into recess inside as officers dealt with the chaos.
The commotion and fights faded shortly after crowds were ordered to disperse once police declared an unlawful assembly.
The school board was voting on reconsidering Pride curriculum and LGBTQ+ issues that have been in place since 2019. Glendale Unified says it follows California law, which states that every person on campus has the right to be referred to by their preferred pronouns. The district also says sexual health education starts in the 5th grade.
The protest was attended by parents, LGBTQ+ supporters, activists and community members. According to some reports, ANTIFA was also present at the protest.
Some parents say the protest isn't against the LGBTQ+ community, but against the school district for not being transparent on subjects they are teaching.
"A young child does not have the capability to comprehend these topics in elementary school. Just like religion, politics, gender should not have a biased indoctrination at schools. Children should be encouraged to have their own thoughts and beliefs align with their family values while respecting others choices as well," one parent told FOX 11.
"They need to stop asking little children what they sexually identify as. Children are not sexual beings, nor should they be," said one parent.
"I think it's really important to be here and stand up for all children and not be exclusive. We are an inclusive community," said another protester.
"The school's emphasis should be on instilling empathy and promoting respect for all individuals, regardless of their beliefs. It is possible for us to coexist peacefully without sharing the same perspectives as others. While there are fundamental subjects that we all agree on, such as reading, writing, mathematics, and history, there are certain values and beliefs that are better left for parents to impart. In fact, those who do not have children are not in a position to make decisions regarding my child. The primary motivation for individuals to have children is to pass down their own beliefs, values, traditions, and similar aspects to the next generation. Society has witnessed a decline in principles, honor, standards, and morals. While it is essential for us to practice tolerance and respect for each other's adult choices, it is crucial to shield innocent children from certain influences," said parent Arsine Sargsyan.
"If the presence of my religious beliefs is deemed inappropriate or offensive in schools, it is only fair that teachings related to LGBTQ are offensive as well and should be excluded from the educational environment," Sargsyan added.
The school board later voted unanimously to declare June Pride Month and move forward with the curriculum.
Gov. Newsom released the following statement which read in part, "In California, we celebrate the beauty of pluralism — how our diverse communities, heritages, and identities belong and, together, make us whole. Glendale represents the best of this commitment, but the hate we saw on full display last night does not. What should have been a routine vote — simply recognizing Pride Month for the fourth year in a row — turned to violence. The words of the resolution did not change from years past, but what has changed is a wave of division and demonization sweeping our nation. With hate on the rise nationally, we must rise together in California to affirm what both Pride Month and Immigrant Heritage Month represent — that in the Golden State, no matter who you are or what diverse community you are from, you belong."
Police say some of the protesters from Tuesday night were also at an LGBTQ+ protest at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood the week before.
At least three people were arrested Tuesday night, one for allegedly using pepper spray.
Glendale Police Chief Manuel Cid issued the following statement in response:
"I could not be prouder of the men and women of the Glendale Police Department. The professionalism and swift action they displayed during yesterday’s tense situation is a testament to the high standards of service they provide the Glendale community. Thank you!
Yesterday evening, the Glendale Police Department professionally facilitated a large protest outside the Glendale Unified School District Board Meeting. While passionate and boisterous, the protest was largely peaceful, allowing community members to voice their perspectives on issues surrounding the school district.
Unfortunately, a handful of agitators, on both sides of the issue, arrived at the demonstration with a clear desire to confront and incite violence, ultimately engaging in physical assaults. Glendale Police Officers responded to these fights swiftly and professionally, quickly making arrests and restoring order to the situation.
Moving forward, the Glendale Police Department will use all the investigative tools available to us to identify any persons responsible for acts of violence at yesterday’s protest and bring them to justice. The Glendale Police Department and the Glendale community will continue to honor and protect people’s right to free speech and assembly. However, individuals who wish to incite disorder and violence in our community will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly by our Police Department."
- LAUSD approves resolution to incorporate LGBTQ+ lessons in curriculum
- Temecula teachers protest textbook decision after board president
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, LAUSD board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday encouraging all schools to incorporate LGBTQ+ class concepts as part of the curriculum, in addition to formally recognizing June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, while also designating October as LGBTQ+ History Month.
In Temecula, teachers gathered to protest Temecula Valley Unified School District board's decision to exclude certain textbooks from the curriculum. The controversy in Temecula surrounds the debate over a social studies textbook proposed for the fourth-grade curriculum.