At least one person was arrested after fights broke out among protestors outside the Glendale Unified School District’s board meeting Tuesday night, weeks after violence broke out amid a previous meeting discussing the subject of LGBTQ+ Pride and its inclusion in classrooms.
With an estimated 200 people in attendance, demonstrators from both sides showed up to either support or protest the board’s resolution to include Pride curriculum in classrooms.
A large police presence was visible as barricades were set up to contain crowds gathered in the parking lot. Officers dressed in riot gear aimed to dissuade any potential violence from breaking out.
Earlier in the afternoon, protestors rushed the building at one point, but Glendale Police were able to de-escalate the situation. Hours later, video from the scene showed things turning violent before officers were forced to intervene.
Although discussions over LGBTQ+ curriculum were not on the agenda Tuesday night, demonstrators were still protesting the inclusion of Pride in the classroom, something school officials said has been in effect since 2019.
The resolution to include the subject is presented for reconsideration annually and was passed by the board earlier this month.
Advocates said LGBTQ+ representation is especially important when it comes to inclusion in schools. Opponents, however, said that, while some didn’t oppose the LGBTQ+ community, they didn’t want the content to be introduced to children.
“We are calling on anyone with a decent heart, who has a heart for humanity to not allow these fascists to intimidate people and allow that future,” said LGBTQ+ supporter Maya Maliki.
“They’re claiming that they’re for the children,” Maliki said of Pride opponents. “They’re not for the children. They’re for getting rid of a whole section of people.”
Jordan Henry, an opponent of Pride curriculum, claims the school board is “pushing policies onto traditional families, traditional values that directly conflict with that.”
Glendale resident James Clark said, “We just want the school board to listen to the voices of parents rather than all these loud outside agitators.”
In a statement, Glendale Unified School District Superintendant Vivian Ekchian said representation is especially important in schools as being an LGBTQ+ person is not a choice.
“Our primary focus in our school district is to be inclusive,” said Vekchian. “Every student matters, every family member matters. We do follow state laws and California Department of Education guidelines.”
“They should be taught because so many of them already at 3 years old know who they are and they need to know the options they have in life,” said Maebe Putlo, an LGBTQ+ supporter. “To close them off, to shut down the questions that they already have in their minds. I wish there were books out there that I could turn to, mentors out there I could turn to or the facilities out there I could turn to because I grew up feeling totally alone.”
Glendale police said while they “respect and honor” the right to peacefully protest, their job is to keep everyone safe.
“Our duty is to safeguard and defend the Constitutional rights of every community member, including creating an environment that enables everyone to exercise their First Amendment rights safely and securely,” police said in a statement.
Officials reminded anyone participating in the protests that violence would not be tolerated.
“Any groups or individuals wishing to engage in violence or criminal activity will be swiftly identified and arrested by the Glendale Police Department,” authorities said.
The identity of the person who was arrested at the gathering was not released.