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Home / News / Education / Tensions running high ahead of Pride event at NoHo school

Tensions running high ahead of Pride event at NoHo school

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Tensions continued to mount Wednesday at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, where opposition by some parents to a planned Pride Month assembly on Friday has escalated, and the burning of a small Pride Flag that was displayed outside a classroom has led to security concerns.

The flag was burned sometime over the weekend of May 20-21 and discovered that Monday at the campus in the 7800 block of Ethel Avenue. A planter in which the flag had been placed was also broken.

Los Angeles police were investigating the vandalism as a potential hate crime.

“We experienced a break-in over the weekend at Saticoy Elementary that resulted in vandalism and is being investigated as a hate-motivated incident,” school officials wrote in a letter sent to parents and obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “We are cooperating with law enforcement. This is a reminder that we rely on our entire school community to keep our school safe and secure by reporting any suspicious activity on campus after hours. If you see something, say something.”

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho issued a statement Wednesday saying the district is “vigorously investigating this unacceptable act that serves nothing more than to diminish our school community.”

“We take the safety and security of our students and our campuses very seriously,” he said. “We are committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning environment that embraces the diversity of the communities we serve. There is no place for hate or intolerance in Los Angeles Unified.”

The Times reported that the flag had been outside the classroom of a teacher who is a transgender man, and who has since been removed from the school due to safety concerns. Photos of the teacher, however, have been posted on conservative Instagram pages used by some parents opposing the planned Friday Pride assembly, the paper reported.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, issued a statement Wednesday saying it “condemns the egregious behavior by bigoted protesters that outed the gender identity of a teacher at Saticoy Elementary.”

“At a time of unprecedented threats against the LGBTQIA+ community and anti-trans legislation, this unwarranted response is a blatant attempt to create a hostile environment, not just for visibly transgender people, but for anyone who does not fit neatly into strict male or female gender presentations,” according to UTLA.

“Whether North Carolina or California, public schools should be considered safe havens for our students, communities, and the educators who serve them. No educator, regardless of whether or not they conform to gender stereotypes, should have to go to work and fear any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior may occur against them.”

The union called actions at Saticoy “another brazen attempt perpetrated by the intolerant minority to divide our communities and demean educators. … We can either teach students that people and families come in all shapes and sizes, or we can choose to teach fear-mongering and hate.”

The planned Pride assembly on Friday is expected to include a reading of a book called “The Great Big Book of Families,” which highlights diversity. Parents can request that their children not attend the program, according to the district.

Parents who oppose the program started an Instagram account urging parents to keep their kids out of school on Friday and to attend a protest at the campus on Friday.

“Keep your kids home and innocent,” the page proclaims.

Some parents have insisted they simply do not believe such a Pride event is appropriate for kids who are in elementary school.

“We are parents of elementary school children, who have the right to introduce sexually explicit topics at our discretion,” according to the organizers’ Instagram page. “Yes any topic that is related to LGBTQ is sexually explicit. Why? Our children are innocent and have no idea what is out there. We as parents have the right to introduce these topics at our discretion. Instead we are being forced into talking about topics that should not burden our children for many years to come.”

The site includes phone numbers and email addresses of select school and district officials, urging parents to contact them to register complaints about the Pride assembly. The site also notes that the school has “a large population of Armenian & Hispanic families many who are Christian and/or share conservative values (and) don’t feel this material is appropriate to teach to the children and believe it’s a parent’s right to choose.”

Protesting parents plan to distribute leaflets to other parents “who might not be aware of what will be taught that day.”

Renato Lira, director of the San Fernando Valley LGBTQ Center, told the Daily News that volunteers also plan to be at the campus Friday in a show of support for LGBTQ teachers and parents at the school. Lira noted that the group has since hung a larger Pride flag in the window of the classroom outside of which the smaller flag was burned.

The LAUSD earlier issued a statement saying, “As part of our engagement with school communities, our schools regularly discuss the diversity of the families that we serve and the importance of inclusion. This remains an active discussion with our school communities and we remain committed to continuing to engage with families about this important topic.”

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