Violence breaks out at school board meeting over Pride Month: ‘Extremists attacked LGBTQ+ parents’
Violence erupted outside a school board meeting as LGBTQ+ activists and right-wing groups clashed over LGBTQ+ inclusion during Pride Month.
On Tuesday (6 June) police were called to a school board meeting in the city of Glendale, California – just north of Los Angeles – after demonstrators came to blows with each other.
The confrontation happened as board members for the Glendale Unified School District, which represents 25,000 students, met to discuss recognising June as Pride Month. An agenda item they unanimously approved later in the evening.
The public comment section of the meeting was cut short by police due to the violent situation outside the building, with officers giving attendees instructions not to leave for a short period for their own safety.
Footage and images shared on social media showed hundreds of people from both sides outside the school district headquarters on North Jackson Street in the city.
LGBTQ+ activists and allies waved Pride flags and held signs which read “protect trans kids” while those protesting the school district’s inclusive policies held American flags and wore white t-shirts with the phrase “leave our kids alone” printed on, a phrase they also chanted.
Reports have surfaced on social media that a number of the anti-LGBTQ+ protesters were members of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys.
Law enforcement officials said a majority of the protest was peaceful but a “small group” of people engaged in violent behaviour which led to three arrests on various charges, of which included unlawful use of pepper spray and willfully obstructing officers in their line of duty.
Videos shared on Twitter show the scale of the violence with members of the opposing sides punching and kicking each other as police officers attempt to de-escalate the situation and separate the brawling parties.
It is unclear who threw the first punch.
During the meeting, parents expressed both support and outrage at the school board for its LGBTQ-inclusive policies.
One parent, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, said she was grateful for efforts to be inclusive as her child had faced discrimination due to being queer.
“I’ve never spoken before,” she said, “but as an actual parent, I felt that I had to be here because a lot of the opposing people don’t believe that I exist.”
Another person, however, decried the board and said they want to “keep the focus in schools on academics rather than on sexual orientation”.
Prior to the meeting, the school district was forced to issue a statement and fact sheet regarding misinformation being spread about the curriculum used in schools.
“Recently, intentional and harmful disinformation has been circulating about what is being taught in our district and the ways we serve our students.
“This includes disinformation about LGBTQIA+ curriculum, sex education, and supporting transgender and gender non-conforming youth,” the school district stated.
The document outlines what students are taught as well as wider policies in regards to the rights of trans pupils, such as the use of pronouns and access to spaces such as locker rooms.
In a statement, the Glendale Police Department said the protest eventually exceeded the “bounds of peaceful assemble” after attempts to calm the situation, resulting in the force issuing a dispersal order just after 6pm.
One parent, named Megan, spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the demonstration, describing the anti-LGBTQ+ rally as “heartbreaking”.
“This is a great community, my son has received a great education here,” Megan said.
“The Glendale Police Department acknowledges and respects the right of individuals to peacefully assemble and express their opinions,” the police force said in a release.
“We encourage continued open dialogue and constructive engagement with community members.
“The Glendale Police Department remains committed to fostering positive relationships and working collaboratively with community leaders and organizations to address concerns and find common ground.”
PinkNews has contacted the Glendale Unified School District and the Glendale Police Department for comment.
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