California school officials who rejected curriculum over Harvey Milk inclusion face being unseated

Students gather in support of LGBTQ+ inclusive education and trans-inclusive policies in schools in the US

Three California school board officials who banned critical race theory and rejected social studies content that included LGBTQ+ rights hero Harvey Milk could be unseated by angry parents. 

The trio of Southern California school board members – Joseph Komrosky, Danny Gonzalez and Jen Wiersma – were elected in late 2022 and were funded by Tim Thompson, an evangelical pastor in Riverside County with an anti-mask agenda.

Since then, the officials have launched attacks on inclusive education policies, ousted their district’s popular superintendent and have quickly lost favour with parents in their Temecula school district, leading to protests and angry confrontations.

A petition – created by One Temecula Valley Political Action Committee – demanding the immediate resignation of Komrosky and Wiersma and censure of Gonzalez for “bad governance” and “irreparable damage” has amassed more than 4,600 signatures.

“In the best interest of our school district, city and community, we reiterate that the immediate resignation of Komrosky and Wiersma is the only reasonable way forward in healing our community and correcting the bad governance enacted by these misguided elected officials,” the petition reads.

In further opposition to the trio’s governance, students have held protests by walking out of class, while angry parents and teachers continue to swarm the board’s meetings.

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Trio condemned critical race theory and rejected a social studies curriculum

A day after they were sworn in, the trio passed a resolution condemning critical race theory – an academic concept that examines how society and its institutions are shaped by race.

Part of the officials’ attack on critical race theory – which Politico notes was not even being taught in Temecula schools – included hiring a consultant to run workshops warning educators about critical race theory.

They also rejected a social studies curriculum that featured a half-page biography of Harvey Milk, the first out gay man to be elected to public office in California.

Harvey Milk Day is celebrated each year on 22 May to mark the birth of the late Milk, who was tragically murdered in 1978 while serving in office.

According to Politico, in making the decision, Komrosky repeated a disputed allegation against Milk, describing him as a “pedophile”. The publication said this allegation was echoed by Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez said: “I find the inclusion of sexually based topics and the glorification of a known pedophile, who happened to be an advocate for gay rights, to 10-year-olds morally reprehensible and inappropriate,” according to the East Bay Times.

California Department of Education investigating

The trio’s campaign against inclusive teaching has drawn state-wide and national attention, with superintendent Tony Thurmond stating that people attending the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles asked attorney general Rob Bonta to get involved. 

Thurmond, Bonta and governor Gavin Newsom had already written a letter to caution school administrators against restricting what students read and learn about marginalised groups. 

Newsom pushed back against the comments on Twitter, calling the remarks an “offensive statement from an ignorant person,” and insinuating that he would be pursuing legal action.

The state Department of Education is now investigating a civil rights complaint against the Temecula Valley Unified School District after Milk was branded a “pedophile”. 

But local Republican leader, Matthew Dobler, said he’s confident voters would back the officials in a recall vote.

“The voters in Temecula spoke clearly during the election last November. If the recall qualifies, I have no doubt the voters will speak clearly again.”

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