Skip Navigation or Skip to Content

By Frank Wells

GLENDALE TEACHERS, health care workers, and community groups are fighting back against a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and disinformation that has plagued their community over the past year and half. On January 25, Glendale Teachers Association and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, along with parents, students, local and state lawmakers, and LGBTQ+ support groups, held a news conference denouncing the growing climate of bigotry, disinformation and fear in the community.

The event was strategically held ahead of upcoming school board elections to raise awareness of the growing problem of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from speakers during public comments at Glendale Unified School District Board meetings, direct threats against educators, and an increase in bullying among impressionable Glendale students.

While the current GUSD Board has stated it is supportive of its inclusive curriculum, board candidates for the March election include Jordan Henry, an extremist who is largely responsible for fomenting the current hostile atmosphere among parts of the Glendale community. GTA has endorsed alternative, LGBTQ+-supportive candidates instead, including former CTA Board of Directors member Telly Tse, a Beverly Hills teacher who lives in Glendale. Tse and current board member Chris Bushée were both participants in the news conference. UTLA/CTA Member Ingrid Gunnell, who currently serves on the GUSD Board, was also in attendance.

The genesis for this recent rise in bigotry in Glendale was initially a public records request by Jordan Henry that surfaced emails between a third grade teacher and a district colleague she was consulting on the suitability of various videos and curriculum she could potentially use as part of inclusive LGBTQ+ curriculum under the school district’s polices and under the California FAIR Act, which requires Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful representations of diverse ethnic and cultural populations in K–12 history and social studies curriculum. The emails and video links were leaked and used as part of a disinformation campaign against the teacher (a member of Glendale Teachers Association), a broad swath of other educators, the school district, and against anything related to LGBTQ+ issues in curriculum. The rhetoric became so extreme that the GTA member became concerned for her own safety. With GTA and CTA assistance, an arrest was made after she received a phone threat from someone who lived far from Glendale, but who had been spurred on by seeing the story on extremist websites.

In the subsequent year and a half, Glendale teachers have been the targets of hate speech, and some have been threatened with physical harm. “WANTED!”-style posters featuring educators’ faces and their personal information have been placed along a main Glendale street. Protests that have drawn extremists such as The Proud Boys and January 6 rioters to the community have erupted into violence outside school board meetings. The disruption of board meetings and rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric mirrors events in other school districts, where bad-faith actors are using the same extremist playbook to divide communities and pit parents against educators.

At the news conference, GTA President Taline Arsenian urged the community to stand together against these attacks. “Our community, and especially our schools are for everyone,” she told the crowd. “We cannot let extremists undermine the safety of our schools, equitable access to health care, or the welfare of everyone in our community.”

In addition to GTA leaders and members, representatives from NUHW, the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center Los Angeles, parents, Glendale city and school district officials, state senator Anthony Portantino, and assembly members Laura Friedman and Wendy Carillo also spoke out against the extremist voices.

Edgar, a recent Glendale High School graduate, spoke about the chilling impact these attacks are having: “I’ve had people follow me out of board meetings after I spoke. I’ve had people take pictures of me and target me online. Young people should be encouraged to be part of our democratic process, not be harassed because they don’t agree with divisive and hateful comments.”

Many speakers reminded the public to get out and “vote their values” on March 5. Before closing out the event Arsenian said, “Glendale public school teachers will not be intimidated. We will continue to teach a rich, inclusive and age-appropriate curriculum with historical accuracy and fact-based science to ensure that students of every race, background, gender, religious affiliation and sexual orientation receive a high-quality education while feeling safe, included and welcome in every Glendale school.”

The Discussion 0 comments Post a Comment

Leave a comment

Please post with kindness. Your email address willl not be published. Required fields are marked*

Scroll To Top Down Arrow An arrow pointing downwards