L.A. school officials double down on LGBTQ+ support in wake of protests

L.A. school board President Jackie Goldberg holds up a book.
Los Angeles Unified school board President Jackie Goldberg holds up “The Great Big Book of Families” during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting in downtown Los Angeles. She read the entire book aloud to those assembled.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles school board President Jackie Goldberg pulled out an oversized children’s book titled “The Great Big Book of Families” and turned a public meeting into story time, her own not-so-subtle statement to critics of LGBTQ+ education.

“In real life, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes,” she read, as the text by British author Mary Hoffman explained. Some children live with “mummy and daddy,” or just their mummy or daddy.

Goldberg soon got to the line “Some children have two mommies or two daddies.”

“A great book,” she said after reading it from cover to cover. “I recommend it.”

Her statement set up the unanimous school board approval of a resolution listing all the ways the nation’s second largest school district intends to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community.


The reading and vote unfolded four days after more than 100 demonstrators marched outside Saticoy Elementary in Sun Valley in protest of a gay pride assembly. Some shouted slurs at counterprotesters and fights broke out before police quickly intervened.

Goldberg’s reading occurred on the same day that violence erupted outside the Glendale Unified school board meeting — which had its own gay pride resolution on the agenda — and once again, fights broke out among demonstrators. Officers declared an unlawful assembly, briefly ordered people to shelter in place and sent protesters home.

Law enforcement declared an unlawful assembly after fighting broke out outside the Glendale Unified School District building.

June 7, 2023

On Tuesday at least the L.A. school board made clear they were not remaining neutral.

The resolution “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 encourages “all schools” to incorporate lessons on the LGBTQ+ community and make use of the “Queer All Year” calendar, and hold “commemorative activities” at various points throughout the school year.

Officials also recommitted to publicize the “OUT for Safe Schools” campaign by providing posters, staff badges, and other inclusive materials to schools.

It is a common exercise for the L.A. school district to pass feel-good resolutions with little to no opposition. But this year, in this moment, a pro-LGBTQ+ resolution feels timely and relevant, said school board member Nick Melvoin, who praised his brother and his brother’s husband as the best of parents.


“This resolution has seemed a bit perfunctory over the years,” Melvoin said. “We’d bring it and we’d celebrate, but we thought that it was less needed here in Los Angeles.

“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.”

Melvoin was referring to the burning of a gay pride flag that belonged to a staff member at Saticoy Elementary, where the Friday demonstration had been staged.

“These kinds of incidents shake us out of our complacency,” Melvoin said.

Across the nation, there are more than 490 bills restricting rights for the LGBTQ+ community this legislative session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The resolution described a crisis to be confronted: “Youth identifying as LGBTQ+ are at a higher risk for experiencing homelessness, being victims of bullying, and attempting or dying by suicide, and national research indicates that mental health struggles and rates of suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ+ youth in recent years.”

A Times reporter and photographer interviewed attendees at West Hollywood’s longstanding Pride celebration. At a time when states are implementing legislation targeting LGBTQ+ communities, some said they came to Pride for fun, some to find community, and some to be heard.

June 7, 2023

Speakers at the meeting talked of their troubles growing up, and a couple of students said bullying of LGBTQ+ students — including in L.A. Unified — is not a thing of the past


The protesters at Saticoy had called for boycotting the school on the day of the assembly, even though attendance at the assembly was optional.

“Keep your kids home and innocent,” a flier posted by protest organizers said.

Attendance was lower than usual Friday at the school, with about 69 out of 564 students absent. L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho said the vast majority of absences were over safety concerns, not in protest of the assembly.

The subject of the assembly was the book that Goldberg read aloud. The assembly also included some singing, Carvalho said.

“What was presented was absolutely, absolutely grade level appropriate, conforms with standards, as published by the state of California,” Carvalho said. “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.”

Goldberg, 78, had intended to remain calm, but later in the meeting, when she spoke on the resolution, anger rose in her voice and she nearly shed tears.

She recounted her career and the personal struggles of her and her children, who, as the book put it, had two mommies.


She also spoke directly to the fears expressed by protesters — that schools are carrying out the sexualized “grooming” of children into a lifestyle their parents consider deviant.

The district would never condone the sexualization of students “in any way, shape, or form,” she said. “And those of you who believe that this might happen 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 assemblies that they feel would be violating their values.”

VIDEO | 06:22
LA Times Today: L.A. school officials double down on LGBTQ+ support in wake of protests

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