At Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, controversy over a scheduled Pride event came to a head Friday morning when parents on both sides of the issue squared off in dueling demonstrations that turned violent.
Supporters and opponents of a Pride month assembly gathered outside the school with city and school police stepping in to separate the sides.
Officers were on the scene to “facilitate a peaceful and lawful exercise of constitutional rights,” the Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter.
The two sides traded arguments and insults over the officers’ heads. Helicopter footage showed the war of words turned physical at one point, with multiple punches thrown. After a few moments, other members of the crowd were able to successfully separate the combatants, and police swooped in to maintain order.
The controversy began with an announcement that for Pride month, teachers at Saticoy Elementary would read students Mary Hoffman’s book “The Great Big Book of Families,” which Goodreads called “a celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District agreed, telling KTLA last month that the event is intended to highlight diversity.
Some parents, however, claim the discussion of same-sex relationships and other topics during the Gay Pride and Rainbow Day assembly is not appropriate for young children and should be taught at home by parents, not at school by teachers.
An Instagram account called Saticoy Elementary Parents called the subject matter “an inappropriate topic for our kids!” when promoting their protest.
On Friday, demonstrators held signs alleging that the supporters were “sexualizing” and grooming children for pedophiles. Supporters of the school’s program held up pro-LGBTQ messages and flags, and others showed up to support the school and its attempts to teach diversity.
The controversy also led to a possible hate crime in late May when a burned Pride flag was discovered at the school. Police are investigating the incident as a “vandalism hate crime,” but no suspects have been identified.
Those protesting the assembly denied responsibility for burning the flag.