Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Following a Pride Month assembly at a North Hollywood elementary school that prompted a protest by dozens of upset parents, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution June 6 encouraging all district schools to incorporate lessons on the LGBT community into their curriculum.
The resolution introduced by board President Jackie Goldberg and member Nick Melvoin served as the board’s official recognition of June as LGBT Pride Month — while also honoring October as LGBT History Month; Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day; Nov. 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance; March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility; and April 12 as a Day of Silence honoring the “contribution of the LGBT community.”
It noted that research has suggested that 25% of high school-age students in the country identify as LGBT, and “tragically, youth identifying as LGBT are at a higher risk for experiencing homelessness, being victims of bullying, and attempting or dying by suicide, and national research indicates that mental health struggles and rates of suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBT youth in recent years.”
“Every school district, including ours, must continue to take a stand in supporting our LGBT youth and ensuring that every student has the resources they need to thrive both academically and socio-emotionally as a valued member of their school community.”
By approving the resolution, the board called for the district to “renew our commitment that all LGBT students and staff feel safe, heard and respected, and that staff are aware of all available resources for LGBT students who are experiencing mental health issues.”
Most notably, the resolution “encourages all schools to incorporate lessons on the LGBT community in instruction.”
Melvoin said the purpose behind the resolution is to ensure students are educated about the world in which they live.
“Schools make our kids’ worlds bigger, and that’s what scares a lot of intolerant people, they want the world to be small,” Melvoin said. “But we have a responsibility to prepare students for the realities of the world they live in. And it’s a world that includes different types of families and people, and that’s what makes it so wonderful and beautiful. And that’s what we’ll teach and celebrate not just in June but all year.”
A handful of people spoke in favor of the resolution during the meeting, including at least two parents. No members of the public spoke in opposition.
On June 2, dozens of parents descended on Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood in protest of a Pride Month assembly. Parents organizing the protest said they were not condemning the LGBT community, but wanted the right to decide what — and when — their children are taught on the subject.
The days leading up to the assembly were marred by news that a small Pride flag on the campus was set on fire, further aggravating tensions.
The protesting parents were met at the school by LGBT advocates and other supporters, creating a sometimes tense standoff that included at least one scuffle between the opposing sides and prompting police to form a skirmish line to keep the factions separated. No injuries or arrests were reported.
The Saticoy assembly included the reading of “The Great Big Book of Families,” which discusses diverse and different types of families.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho denied that the book contained any sexual material, countering accusations by some critics who accused the school of giving sexualized instruction to children.
During the June 6 school board meeting, school board President Goldberg read “The Great Big Book of Families,” noting that it includes “one sentence in it that said, yeah, guess what, families can include two moms or two dads.”
Goldberg, who is openly lesbian, got emotional, pounding her hand on her desk as she referenced the Saticoy protests, saying, “I am very tired of having young people and adults in the LGBT community hear three days of yelling and screaming about this. What do you think that did to them? … What do you think that did to them? It made them afraid! It made them afraid. … How dare you make them afraid because you are.”