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L.A. School Board President Gives a Lesson on LGBTQ+ Inclusion

L.A. School Board President Gives a Lesson on LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Jackie Goldberg

Jackie Goldberg spoke out amid anti-LGBTQ+ protests at Southern California schools.

Amid anti-LGBTQ+ protests at schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s board, led by its out president Jackie Goldberg, has taken a stand for diversity and inclusion.

The L.A. Unified board unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday in support of the LGBTQ+ community, the Los Angeles Times reports. It reads that the district “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.” It also encourages schools to incorporate LGBTQ+ lessons throughout the year.

The adoption came after Jackie Goldberg, president of the board, read from a children’s book titled The Great Big Book of Families and gave an impassioned speech. Some parents at Saticoy Elementary School in the North Hollywood section of L.A. had protested over a Pride assembly at the school that included the reading of that book, and during the protest there were physical altercations between protesters and counterprotesters. A Pride flag was burned at one point.

Goldberg noted that the book has one sentence that says some families have two mothers or two fathers. Parents of Saticoy students had been told their children didn’t have to attend the assembly if the parents or children were uncomfortable with it, she said.

“I’ve been confronting this issue my entire life,” Goldberg, a lesbian, longtime activist, and former Los Angeles City Council member, said after reading from the book. “I have been threatened. I have been harassed. I have been denied jobs because of who I am and who I love.”

She said some protesters at Saticoy said they couldn’t be homophobic because they have gay relatives, which she called “B.S.” “You can be homophobic and have a gay friend, a gay neighbor, a gay son, a gay anything,” she said. “Talk to all the gay kids that get thrown out of their houses and onto the streets by parents who say I won’t have you in my house any longer, and tell me that having a gay relative means you’re not homophobic.”

Those who protested, Goldberg said, did so “based on hearsay” from “agitators … from outside their community who saw an opportunity to take advantage of the real fears of people.” She added that she doesn’t expect anyone to love or accept her but just to treat her with the same respect they show any other person. The protests made every gay kid and gay worker in the city afraid, she said. “How dare you make them afraid because you are?” she continued.

Her son was harassed for having two moms, but her grandchildren haven’t been, and “that’s progress,” she said. She also promised that no one in the district will ever “sexualize” children, as the far right has baselessly accused LGBTQ+ activists of doing. Those who believe this might happen are invited to review curriculum materials, attend assemblies with their children, and opt their kids out of assemblies they find objectionable, she said. She doesn’t believe in forcing anyone to do anything that violates their values, as “we don’t all have to agree,” she concluded.

Videos of her speech have gone viral, receiving hundreds of thousands of views.

Goldberg’s speech and the adoption of the resolution came the same night as protests in a neighboring school district, in the L.A. suburb of Glendale. The Glendale Unified School Board was scheduled to vote on a resolution proclaiming Pride Month, and anti-LGBTQ+ protesters clashed with LGBTQ+ rights supporters outside the board office. Three people were arrested. The board, however, ended up adopting the resolution.

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