1 arrested at protest outside Glendale school board meeting as groups clash over LGBTQ+ education

Wednesday, June 21, 2023
1 arrested at large protest outside Glendale school board meeting
Two weeks after demonstrations turned violent over an LGBTQ+ resolution, a large group of protesters and activists rallied once again as tension continues to grow.

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Two weeks after demonstrations in Glendale turned violent over the school district's LGBTQ+ resolution, a large group of protesters and activists rallied once again for the board's final meeting of the year.

Though there were no LGBTQ+ issues on the agenda Tuesday night, the group began forming outside the Glendale Unified School District offices on Jackson Street long before the meeting's start time.

Footage from AIR7 HD captured the crowd gathering in the parking lot with many people holding signs. Police told Eyewitness News one person was arrested, though details into the arrest weren't immediately disclosed.

Police in riot gear helped keep pro-LGBTQ+ protesters and conservative groups in line in an effort to avoid any conflict. However, news video from the scene at one point showed a scuffle that prompted officers to intervene after a man ended up on the ground, covering his head with his hands as other men kicked him.

This is the first time the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education has met since protests and violence erupted outside its June 6 session, during which the board adopted a resolution recognizing June as Pride Month.

President Nayiri Nahabedian started off the meeting by attempting to get protesters to calm down, calling out certain actions that have allegedly occurred in the past couple of weeks.

"Angry rhetoric has been ratcheted up and some things have been said and done that are simply not OK and they really must stop," she said. "Accusatory language, personal attacks, mining people's social media to publicize deeply personal situations, vandalizing cars, racial and ethnic slurs, homophobic, transphobic slurs and intentional misrepresentation of what's happening in our schools. These things will create long lasting divisions in our Glendale community that may never be repaired. Deep divisions that we should wonder how to come back from."

Demonstrators clashed and fights erupted during a protest outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School District board, which was scheduled to vote on recognizing June as Pride month.

She continued saying though everyone has a right to their own opinions, "no one has a right to threaten, bully, harass another person."

"Absolutely no one has a right to incite violence and I'm asking everyone in our community and everyone attending these board meetings to deescalate the angry rhetoric and violent behavior," Nahabedian said.

Later on during the meeting, GUSD Superintendent Dr. Vivian Ekchian announced she will be retiring from her role, effective June 30, after 38 years in public education.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students, families, and employees of Glendale Unified School District for the past four years," said Ekchian in a statement released Tuesday night. "Together, we successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, improved health and wellness for students and employees, and expanded dynamic learning opportunities for every child. I know that our Board of Education, school and district leadership, educators, and staff will continue the transformative work being done throughout the district and maintain a steadfast focus on preparing all students for success in college, career, and life."

Protesters who have been gathering at the last couple of meetings said the state's curriculum - and thus the GUSD's policy in dealing with LGBTQ+ issues - violate their rights as parents.

Other parents felt certain topics shouldn't be discussed at such a young age.

"This is about protecting the children. That's it," said protester Elsa Aldeguer, who spoke with ABC7 on Tuesday while the meeting was underway. "Adults can do whatever they want, but the children; they need somebody to protect them. They're not ready to make the right choices at that time, especially when it comes down to sex."

LGBTQ+ advocates, however, disagree.

"I'm a supporter of kids, however they come," said a parent, who wished to be identified only as a Megan. "I'm not OK with these groups coming to our community and getting involved in our schools. Every kid has a right to be themselves in school."

Tuesday's agenda includes public comment then the board will adjourn into closed session, reconvening in public session at 8 p.m.

The agenda includes adoption of the district's 2023-24 budget.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.