At a recent meeting, lesbian Los Angeles School Board President Jackie Goldberg screamed while condemning anti-LGBTQ+ activists who violently protested a children’s book outside an elementary school last week. She also read the entire book aloud, from cover to cover, to the meeting’s attendees.
Following her reading and comments, the school board unanimously voted to recognize important LGBTQ+ holidays and encouraged schools to incorporate LGBTQ+ content into their lessons while providing a safe space for queer youth year-round.
The Proud Boys were among the anti-LGBTQ+ protestors who chanted, “Whose kids? Our kids!”
Goldberg read The Great Big Book of Families, a book that includes the line, “Some children have two mommies or two daddies.” After she finished reading, she said, “A great book. I recommend it.”
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The book was read as part of Saticoy Elementary School’s June 2 Pride-themed school assembly. A so-called “parents rights” group, Saticoy Elementary Parents, spearheaded a 100-person protest outside of the school’s assembly, falsely claiming that the book was “sexually explicit” because it acknowledges same-sex families. A fight broke out at the protest, and someone burned a Pride flag at the school.
Referring to right-wing outrage over the event, Goldberg told the meeting’s attendees, “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 every gay teacher, every gay custodian, every gay worker in this city? Every gay kid? 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!” she yelled, passionately addressing the protesters.
The 78-year-old board president said the issue was particularly personal to her since her own children were harassed in school for having two mothers. She also said that she has been threatened, harassed, and denied jobs “because of who I am and who I love.”
“I want to be very, very, very clear,” she added. “Nobody has to accept me. I’m not looking for your acceptance. But you better treat me the same way you treat everybody else. That’s how we live in this country. You don’t have to love me. You don’t have to like me, you can think I’m the devil incarnate. But you better treat me like a decent human being because that’s how I treat you even though you don’t believe that I have the right to exist.”
The board then unanimously voted to approve a resolution that “proclaims and commemorates June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, October as LGBTQ+ History Month, as well as October 11th as National Coming Out Day, November 20th as Transgender Day of Remembrance, March 31st as Transgender Day of Visibility, and April 12th as Day of Silence.”
The resolution also encouraged all schools to incorporate LGBTQ+ content into lessons and to hold “commemorative activities” recognizing the queer community year-round. Board officials also advocated for schools to promote the “OUT for Safe Schools” campaign which uses posters, staff badges, and other inclusive materials to make queer youth aware of supportive educators and safe spaces within schools.
School board member Nick Melvoin said the district’s annual Pride Month resolution has “seemed a bit perfunctory over the years… But as we’re seeing the weaponization of public policy to sow hate and discrimination, it makes it all the more important for us to speak out against the acts of hate and violence cropping up all around us — from legislatures across the country passing anti-LGBTQ+ bills to a cruel act of vandalism in our own backyard just a few days ago.”
Responding to complaints about the Pride-themed assembly, Los Angeles School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the assembly’s content was “absolutely, absolutely grade-level appropriate, conforms with standards, as published by the state of California, and it aligns with this idea that books that are age appropriate should not be removed from shelves or not be accessible to kids. This was nothing more, nothing less than a book that speaks about families in our community — of different religions, races, ethnicities — and has one reference that has been misportrayed in so many ways.”
During the board meeting, Goldberg said that “agitators… from outside their community … saw that opportunity to take advantage of the real fears of people” by claiming that the book and assembly would “sexualize” students. Similar rhetoric has frequently been used to demonize LGBTQ+ educators and allies.
“I say to all of you, nobody in this district will ever sexualize any kid for any reason in any classroom in any way, shape, or form,” Goldberg said. “And those of you who believe that this might happen, you are allowed to read the curriculum materials, are invited into the assemblies with your children, are invited not to have your children go to the assemblies. I do not believe in forcing a parent to have a child attend an assembly that they feel would be violating their values. That’s fine with me.”