A third-grade teacher in Glendale, Calif., has received threats after showing LGBTQ+ Pride videos to her students.
Tammy Tiber showed the videos almost a year ago, but widespread controversy over them began just recently after a candidate for Glendale City Council obtained thousands of pages of documents about lessons in the Glendale Unified School District that he had requested through public records laws, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The candidate, Jordan Henry, “asked for emails on social justice learning standards and lessons, restorative justice and antibias education,” according to the Times. One email, between Tiber and a curriculum adviser, was posted on social media, leading to criticism of the teacher and contentious school board meetings.
“Today I talked to my class about LGBTQ pride month and played 2 short videos from youtube that were geared toward kids,” Tiber wrote in the email last June, when she was teaching online via Zoom. “A parent who heard the lesson and discussion made her daughter leave zoom and texted me asking me when I was done discussing sexual orientation so that she could let her kids back into zoom. I was planning on doing more lessons tomorrow and Wednesday, but now I’m afraid to. Here are the videos and lessons I was going to do with my class.”
She cited four videos, and it’s not clear which ones she had already showed to the class, the Times reports. But some parents recalled seeing the one that aroused the most controversy, “Talking to Kids About Pride Month,” featuring Canadian TV personality Jessi Cruickshank and several children. Cruickshank discusses her attraction to actress Jodie Foster and mentions “sexual diversity” and “coming out of the closet.” The curriculum adviser said Tiber should reconsider using this video, although he did not tell her outright not to, and he pronounced the other videos appropriate.
Some parents in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb, have said this and other videos were not age-appropriate and that conversations about these topics belong in the home, not school — echoing the rationale behind Florida’s “don’t say gay” law and similar legislation proposed in other states.
“We’re upset about the curriculum that was taught to 8-year-olds,” parent Alvina Piloyan told the Times, adding that she had seen the Cruickshank video. “We’re just saying it’s inappropriate for that age and that video was not very educational.”
Several parents have complained at recent school board meetings, while others have expressed support for Tiber. The teacher has received threats, one of which was documented in a phone message that her attorney provided to the Times.
“You guys are like the devil,” the caller said. “You’re going to get what’s coming to you. ... Somebody will be outside your house, I’m sure, a mob.” The caller has since been identified as a woman from Victorville, Calif., who may be charged with a crime.
Tiber has been transferred from Jefferson Elementary School to another location. She said the transfer was not voluntary and seemed like a punishment, but school officials told the Times it was not disciplinary in nature.
Tiber, who has 34 years of teaching experience, defended herself at a recent school board meeting. “I had hoped to make my classroom a safe space and that I could teach my students to love and accept others no matter their differences, even if some of them had been taught to disapprove or hate others who are different from them,” she said, according to the Times.
“My life has turned upside down,” she added, saying she felt she was the subject of a “witch hunt.”
District officials are continuing to investigate the matter.