Outside a school board meeting in Glendale, California, opposing groups violently clashed as the board voted whether to recognize June as Pride Month.
While speakers took to the microphone inside the meeting room, there was a brawl outside. At least three people were ultimately arrested for reasons like obstructing police officers and unlawful use of pepper spray, though it’s unclear which side was specifically responsible for those actions.
Anna Keshishyan, who has two kids in the Glendale schools, was part of the side that showed up to oppose the district’s curriculum on sexual orientation and gender identity.
She says that curriculum was the crux of the conflict that became violent, not simply recognizing June as Pride Month.
The school district, however, says its curriculum on gender identity and sexual orientation hasn’t changed for several years and that those suggesting otherwise are misinformed.
“It’s unnecessary curriculum,” Keshishyan said. “My concern is that the curriculum, when it comes to LGBTQIA material, keeps growing and getting more inappropriate. I have a link to a number of books that have been adopted by the Glendale Unified School Board — which are displayed at the school libraries, elementary school libraries — that are unnecessary, inappropriate material.”
Kashishyan says she’s not homophobic.
Some protesting outside the school board meeting held anti-Pride memorabilia.
According to Keshishyan, there were far-left extremists affiliated with the Antifa movement there. It’s unclear if that’s true.
And while stickers affiliated with the far-right extremist group The Proud Boys showed up on police barricades, it’s also not clear if that group was present.
The Glendale Police Department is investigating what happened. It told Scripps News: “The Glendale Police Department has not yet identified specific groups or individuals representing particular groups related to the protest. We have seen the online posts and will look to identify the agitators from both sides.”
The school district’s superintendent was unavailable due to attending a graduation on Wednesday.
The district didn’t immediately answer emailed questions about whether its curriculum on gender identity and sexual orientation has recently changed.
Supporters say it hasn’t.
At the core of the conflict is a nuanced debate about how much education students should receive about gender and sexual diversity and at what age, with some on the opposing sign believing it should only start in high school if at all.
It’s a conversation that comes against the backdrop of increased anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed across the country, with the ACLU tracking nearly 500 of them. Plus, the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community, saying it’s under attack.