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Fights break out outside Glendale school district meeting as protesters battle over gender studies

Fists fly as protesters clash outside Glendale school district meeting about Pride Month
Fists fly as protesters clash outside Glendale school district meeting about Pride Month 03:30

Protests outside a Glendale school district meeting turned violent as groups began several brawls as administrators discussed recognizing Pride Month, while the public debated gender and sexual identity studies.

Demonstrations outside of the Glendale Unified School District building stayed relatively civil throughout the day. However, scuffles between the around 200 protesters and counter-demonstrators began after 6 p.m. School administrators said many of the protesters did not have students in the district.

Protesters fight outside Glendale school district meeting about Pride Month 07:19

The city's police department deployed around 50 officers to the meeting to prevent scuffles among the groups. After several brawls, officers ordered the protesters to disperse and threatened to use less-than-lethal force to break up the crowd. 

The attempts to de-escalate the crowd failed, prompting officers to arrest at least three people. They are accused of using pepper spray and obstruction.

Tensions boiled over inside the building as people debated LGBTQ+ issues during public comment. Gender and sexual identity curriculum were not on the agenda for the meeting. The only topic related to the LGBTQ+ community on the agenda was a declaration of support for Pride Month. The district has passed this declaration for the past five years.

"In Glendale Unified, we are committed to providing a safe, inclusive environment where every child can learn and thrive," the district said in a statement. We know that kids do better when their parents are involved in their education. We work with parents as partners and encourage all parents and other caregivers to be inquisitive and engaged with what is going on in our school community. Let's continue to work together, commit to having difficult conversations, ask questions, and maintain a civil discourse for the benefit of all students.

The battle over LGBTQ+ instruction has been an ongoing conflict in the United States as communities demand school boards limit discussions of sexual orientation. The decision to ban a book about pioneering gay rights figure Harvey Milk garnered the attention of California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week after a school board president accused the slain activist of being a pedophile.

The same groups that fought outside GUSD's headquarters protested outside a North Hollywood elementary school last week. The rally played out similarly to Tuesday's protest with demonstrators remaining relatively peaceful apart from a few dust-ups in the afternoon. 

June is Pride Month, with LGBTQ+ celebrations kicking off in West Hollywood last weekend.

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