Protestors and counter protestors in front of Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood as conservative parents voiced their outrage over a Pride assembly. (Photos by Sloane Jacobs)

Since 1999, the United States has celebrated June as Pride Month, known back then as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Although it’s meant to be a time to celebrate members of the LGBTQ+ community, hate incidents have increased over the years, especially towards the transgender community.

Recently, a large protest of conservative parents joined by others who share their view erupted outside Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood sparked by a Pride Assembly on June 2, which included a reading of “The Great Big Book of Families” that contains content about diverse families — including a child with LGBTQ+ parents.

Protestors and counter protestors in front of Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood as conservative parents voiced their outrage over a Pride assembly. (Photos by Sloane Jacobs)

Members of the Gay community showed up to support the school’s efforts and wave the Pride flag.  LAPD and school police formed a line separating the two groups.

At the elementary school, last month, a small Pride flag that was placed in a flowerpot was found burnt outside of a transgender teacher’s classroom. After receiving hate messages, the teacher was removed from the school for safety reasons but has since returned to the classroom following the protest.

Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Kelly Gonez, who represents the San Fernando Valley, said the school board wants to have “tough conversations” with parents who didn’t support the school’s Pride assembly. 

Gonez, who attended the tense standoff outside of the school questioned the reaction from those who protested the book and assembly. 

“I think it’s really important to be factual about what content was shared today, the fact that it is age-appropriate and that it’s simply about providing inclusive, welcoming environments to all of our students and families,” Gonez said.  

Not everyone feels that way, however. On the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol Facebook page, Anayeli Osorio wrote, “Good for those parents standing against [the] indoctrination of kids.”

Another commenter, Alex Martinez, simply wrote, “Leave our kids alone,” the same message printed on T-shirts worn by parents who were against the school’s assembly.

Several other comments showed their support for the assembly and the LGBTQ+ community, criticizing many of the arguments the conservative parents were making.

“Teachers are not grooming anyone; they are teaching them to be decent young adults because parents are not teaching them,” Melissa Ann Lopez wrote. “That’s why there is so much homophobia because people don’t understand. If you can’t teach your child to make their own decision, then you failed as a parent.”

“It’s laughable that these people believe pride is indoctrination and grooming,” wrote Marilyn Lopez-Ae. “I think they have the wrong group. They should talk to the Catholic church.”

There was also a divisive reaction online on the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol Instagram page to the raising of the Pride flag outside of San Fernando City Hall on June 1.

One comment with the username teeniequeenie said, “Love is love. [I’m] proud to be a part of this city! Diversity and inclusion [are] important.”

Meanwhile, another user by the name of slugger818 wrote, “There goes the neighborhood! I want nothing to do with the city!”

In Glendale, another protest was held organized via social media that brought hundreds of people outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School District board.  The board meeting was set to discuss policies in support of LGBTQ+ classroom curriculum.  While the gathering was initially peaceful, factions on both sides of the emotional issue eventually grew confrontational, leading to fights and fists being thrown, ultimately prompting the arrests of at least three people. Because of the melee, police issued a shelter-in-place order to those inside the building which cut short the public comment portion that was to address the agenda item to declare June Pride Month in the district.

Meanwhile, gay rights advocates including LAUSD School Board President Jackie Goldberg, who is gay, expressed concern that these protests organized by conservatives have evoked new fear in the gay community. 

“I am very tired of having young people and adults in the LGBTQ 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.”