Violence Erupts Outside California School Board Meeting Over Pride Month Declaration

While a Southern California school board met Tuesday to discuss declaring June as Pride Month, a brawl broke out among the hundreds of protesters assembled outside.

The fight outside Glendale Unified School District headquarters led to three arrests and a declaration of an unlawful assembly, the Glendale Police Department confirmed Tuesday night.

“While most of the protest was peaceful, a small group of individuals engaged in behavior deemed unsafe and a risk to public safety,” police said in a statement.

An estimated 500 people assembled outside the school district headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb, with those opposed to the Pride Month declaration waving U.S. flags, wearing shirts that read “Leave our kids alone” and holding up signs reading “Stop grooming the kids.” The Los Angeles Times photographed one man wearing a shirt that read “Teacher: Don’t bring your bedroom into my kid’s classroom.”

Counterprotesters who support the school district declaring June as Pride Month, as it has done the three previous years, showed up with rainbow Pride flags. Ultimately, the five-member school board unanimously voted in favor of declaring Pride Month.

A protester opposed to the school district's Pride Month declaration holds up a sign.
A protester opposed to the school district's Pride Month declaration holds up a sign.

A protester opposed to the school district's Pride Month declaration holds up a sign.

Previous Pride Month declarations by the Glendale school board simply stated that it encourages district staff to “support lessons and activities that engage students in meaningful learning about the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community and the experiences of our LGBTQ+ students, employees, and families,” as well as “urges everyone to recognize the contributions made by members of the LGBTQ+ community and to actively promote the principles of equality, liberty, and justice.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called out the violence as part of a growing right-wing culture war.

“What should have been a routine vote ― simply recognizing Pride Month for the fourth year in a row ― turned to violence,” he said Wednesday in a statement. “The words of the resolution did not change from years past, but what has changed is a wave of division and demonization sweeping our nation.”

Protesters wear shirts reading
Protesters wear shirts reading

Protesters wear shirts reading "Leave our kids alone."

Tuesday’s violence comes amid a wave of conservative lawmakers going after how race, gender and sexual orientation are discussed in schools and claiming that school districts are sexualizing children by incorporating inclusive education materials into the curriculum.

And, according to a study released in April by the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom for All Americans, lawmakers have introduced more than 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year.

“In California, we celebrate the beauty of pluralism — how our diverse communities, heritages, and identities belong and, together, make us whole,” Newsom said. “Glendale represents the best of this commitment, but the hate we saw on full display last night does not.”