GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) — Protesters briefly scuffled and punches flew Tuesday as a Southern California school district decided whether to recognize June as Pride month.
Several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of the Glendale Unified School District headquarters, split between those who support or oppose exposing youngsters to LGBTQ+ issues in schools.
Some opponents wore T-shirts emblazoned with: “Leave our kids alone.”
It was the same slogan used by some demonstrators last Friday outside Saticoy Elementary School in Los Angeles to protest a planned Pride assembly.
As in Glendale, police officers had to separate groups of protesters and counterprotesters who came to blows.
Across the nation, Pride month celebrations are kicking off amid rising backlash in some places against LGBTQ+ rights. Community parade organizers, school districts and even professional sports terms have faced protests for flying rainbow flags and honoring drag performers. While some Republican-led states are limiting classroom conversations about gender and sexuality and banning gender-affirming care, some Democratic cities and states are seeking to expand LGBTQ+ rights and to honor the community’s contributions.
In Glendale, police quickly moved in to stop clashes, separated the two groups and cleared the parking lot. Police said they arrested two people on suspicion of obstructing officers and one person for unlawful use of pepper spray. TV reports also showed a man being taken away after lying down in the street and refusing to move.
No injuries were reported.
Inside the packed meeting room, the school board late Tuesday night approved, for the fifth year in a row, a resolution designating June as LGBTQ+ Pride month.
However, most of those who addressed the school board discussed broader issues of how sex and gender are handled under district policy, with supporters arguing that LGBTQ+ children need to feel safe and included in classrooms while opponents contended that schools are usurping parental authority and pushing unnecessary and even harmful views on gender.
In an earlier statement, the district said “intentional and harmful disinformation has been circulating about what is being taught” and said it follows state law and education policies.
Earlier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District school board unanimously voted to recognize Pride Month. The resolution also encouraged all schools in the nation’s second-largest district to incorporate lessons on the LGBTQ+ community into the curriculum and affirmed a “commitment to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment for all LGBTQ+ students, families, and staff members.”