California’s attorney general said Friday he was investigating whether a local school district infringed on students’ civil rights by adopting a policy that requires teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender or wants to use a name or pronoun different from what’s on their birth certificate.
Rob Bonta said the policy, approved by the Chino Valley Unified School District in July, could force schools to “out” their students, increasing a student’s risk of being bullied or committing self-harm or suicide.
The policy also requires parents to be notified within three days if their child asked for access to gender-based sports or wants to use a different bathroom or changing rooms that do not match their assigned gender at birth.
“Students should never fear going to school for simply being who they are,” Bonta said in a statement, adding that the “forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity.”
He added: “California will not stand for violations of our students’ civil rights.”
The school district board president said state officials are “overstepping their boundaries.”
“This is a ploy to try to scare all the other boards across California from adopting the policy,” Sonjia Shaw said in a statement to The Associated Press. “I won’t back down and will stand in the gap to protect our kids from big government bullies.”
A spokesperson for the school district said that Bonta did not notify them about the investigation. The board has argued that parents have the right to know. The school district is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.
Bonta’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking more details about the investigation.
The school board adopted the policy following a heated hearing that drew a crowd of a few hundred people, including state Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond, who spoke out against the proposal and was escorted out of the meeting.
Bonta sent a letter to the district in July warning the policy could be in violation of students’ rights.
The policy mirrors failed legislation, introduced by a state Republican lawmaker this year, that would have required California school districts to notify parents if a child is publicly identifying as a gender different from the one on their birth certificate.
The local policy was passed as students across the country see hundreds of bills introduced this year taking aim at nearly every facet transgender existence, from health care to athletics to bathroom access. There are at least a dozen proposals introduced in various states to push for more parental rights by requiring schools to alert parents of gender identity changes in most circumstances.
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang after the vote by the Chino Valley USD Board of Education to adopt a policy that will forcibly out transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming students — who may use different names and pronouns at school than those they were assigned at birth — to their parents without the student’s consent:
“Equality California is appalled and alarmed by the level of blatant homophobia and transphobia leveled against LGBTQ+ youth by the Chino Valley Unified School Board yesterday evening. With LGBTQ+ youth around the country under attack, the school board put their most vulnerable students in harm’s way with their dangerous vote to forcibly out trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth without their consent. The policy they passed last night is dangerous and in direct opposition to recommendations made by the California Department of Education.
In an ideal world, all LGBTQ+ students would have supportive homes with parents and guardians that are positive and active partners in conversations around gender identity and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, we know that’s not the case. According to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 51% of transgender and nonbinary youth identified school as a gender-affirming space, while only 32% said the same of their homes. LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be housing-insecure, and engage in self-harming behavior — particularly if they don’t feel they have a supportive family environment.
At yesterday’s meeting, the rhetoric and behavior of many of the board members, especially Board President Sonja Shaw, was dangerous and unfit for an elected official. Shaw and fellow members referred to LGBTQ+ students as being mentally ill, a harmful and wildly false statement to make in front of students attending the meeting. They also forcibly removed meeting attendees who did not agree with their extremist agenda, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Chino Valley USD students, and Equality California staff members. Shame on them.
One of the major proponents of this misguided policy change is California Assemblymember Bill Essayli, who earlier this year attempted to pass AB 1314, which would have implemented forced outing policies statewide, also attended this meeting amid his push to make the existence of LGBTQ+ youth a partisan issue. Equality California was proud to work with our partners in the legislature to defeat this cruel legislation before it even left committee.
Equality California is committed to advocating for the well-being of all LGBTQ+ students in California and will continue to closely monitor the actions of school districts around the state. We will hold elected officials who use their positions to bully and harm our youth accountable for their actions.”
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org
When Amy Vance and Martha Martin checked out nearly all of the books from the Rancho Peñasquitos branch of the San Diego Public Library, they had a nefarious plan. The incompetent duo emailed the administrator that they would not return the “inappropriate” books.
The duo thought they had the upper hand with the plan to hold the books hostage, but instead, their plan backfired spectacularly. They inadvertently raised $45,000 for the library to expand its LGBTQ+-themed programming and materials.
“Minor children have the right to belong to a community that respects their innocence and allows families to have conversations about sex and sexual attraction privately, and only when parents deem it appropriate,” the women wrote in a June 15 email to the library after checking the books out. “It’s time for the American public libraries to once again be a respectful space for young children to freely explore great ideas that unite and inspire us all, rather than places where controversial and divisive new ideological movements are given free rein to promote their theories and policy positions about sexuality to children without the consent or notification of parents.”
Manager Adrianne Peterson told the New York Times that she felt bad that the Pride display wasn’t up to par this year due to staff vacations and training. So when the pair opted to subvert the system, she was surprised that the display had caused such consternation.
Libraries typically have lax return policies and allow patrons to check out books repeatedly. The fees for returning them late are minimal and rarely enforced to encourage low-income people to check out materials without worrying about charges.
But when Peterson shared the women’s email, city councilor Marni von Wilpert amplified the news, asking people to support the library. And that’s where it all went sideways for the would-be censors.
“Stacks” of Amazon boxes began to pour into the building as people from around the nation replaced the stolen books – including ones that the system didn’t have already. Thousands of dollars in donations were raised for the library, and the city pitched in with an extra $30,000 to help expand the offerings and programming further – including the drag queen story hour, a particular target for rightwing prudes.
After public condemnation and realizing their plan had backfired, the two women returned the books to the library. They’re currently avoiding the media and have no comment on how their plan blew up in their faces.
Across the country, schools and public libraries have increasingly become the focus of conservatives attempting to ban books dealing with the LGBTQ+ experience. At the same time, armed members of far-right hate groups have shown up at local libraries to intimidate patrons attending drag queen story time events in some states.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a deputy threw a transgender man to the ground, punched him and held him down as the man called for help. During the encounter, which was caught on recently released surveillance video, the man could be heard telling the deputy that he couldn’t breathe and at one point said, “You’re going to kill me.”
Emmett Brock, 24, told NBC News he was driving home from his job as a teacher in February when he passed a deputy who appeared to be having a heated conversation with a woman on the side of the road. Brock said he gave the deputy the middle finger as he drove by, and that a patrol vehicle started following him, but the deputy never turned on the vehicle’s sirens or lights.
He said the vehicle tailgated him through several blocks of a residential neighborhood, so he called 911 to ask if he was being pulled over even though there were no lights or sirens.
“I was told if there were no lights and sirens, then I wasn’t being pulled over and could continue to where I was going,” Brock said.
Brock pulled into a 7-Eleven in Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb, and Deputy Joseph Benza parked behind Brock’s vehicle, according to video from the store’s security cameras that Tom Beck, Brock’s attorney, provided to NBC News.
Brock exited his vehicle and, as he closed his car door, Benza said, “I stopped you,” the video shows. Brock responded, “No, you didn’t,” with the knowledge that he had called 911 to check, he said. But then he said the deputy’s hands were on him, and he immediately panicked and thought, “I’m going to die.”
Benza grabbed him, threw him to the ground and then held Brock for three minutes while repeatedly punching him in the head, the video shows.
“You’re going to kill me,” Brock is heard yelling. “You’re going to f—ing kill me. Help! Help! Help! I’m not resisting!”
Brock said he’s 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 115 pounds, and he estimated Benza is about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds.
“His entire body weight is on top of me, and he flipped me over and threw me on my head,” Brock said, adding that his glasses broke immediately. “I’ve never even been in a fight, I’ve never had a speeding ticket, nothing like that. So I’ve never been punched before, and to have these full-force blows from behind from this deputy that is so much bigger than me, it was just, there’s no way I’m getting out of this alive.”
After the struggle, Benza arrested Brock and put him in the patrol vehicle.
Benza said he pulled Brock over because there was an object hanging from his rearview mirror, and it appeared to obstruct the driver’s forward view in violation of a California code, according to an arrest report Beck provided to NBC News.
Benza wrote in the arrest report that he activated “my patrol vehicle overhead lights, which include a fixed forward-facing red lamp,” though the overhead lights were not on when Benza pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot behind Brock, the video shows.
Benza wrote that he got out of his car and told Brock he “stopped (detained) him,”Brock said he didn’t, and “it appeared he was about to walk away from the car and myself.” He added that Brock’s “rejection of my traffic detention and his apparent intent to distance himself from his vehicle further raised safety concerns.”
“I know from my training and experience that those who possess contraband items inside vehicles commonly attempt to disassociate themselves from their vehicles when law enforcement is present,” Benza wrote.
Benza added that he feared Brock was going to punch him and that Brock “continuously tried to bite” him. He said he punched Brock “approximately eight times in rapid succession.”
“My punches had their intended effect,” Benza wrote, adding that Brock subsequently stopped trying to bite him and wrapped his arms around his own head.
Benza did not reply to a request for comment.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in an emailed statement that it “takes all use of force incidents seriously.”
“The Department is investigating the information and allegations brought forward by Mr. Brock and his attorney,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, we cannot comment any further at this time due to the pending litigation in this matter.”
Brock was booked at the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station, which is part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he said he told staff he is transgender.
“And the jailer began to just badger me with questions,” Brock said, including, “So, you’re actually a woman?” and “Do you have a penis? If you don’t have a penis, then you’re definitely a woman.”
“I’m seeing him get angrier and angrier every time I deny that I’m a woman,” Brock said. He feared the jail would increase his bail if he argued, so he decided to just nod his head and say “OK.” He added that the gender markers on all of his identity documents say male.
The male jail employee then brought in a female employee who told Brock she was going to need to “see everything,” Brock recalled. So she brought him to a nearby bathroom and he showed her his genitals and explained what surgeries he has had and the effects of testosterone before being placed in a women’s holding cell.
“I’m not sure what I could have shown her on my body that would have been enough for them,” Brock said. “I just felt so demeaned. I felt humiliated. I felt small. Here are these police officers, these sheriff’s deputies telling you to do something while you’re in their custody, and if you don’t want to make it worse for yourself, and you don’t want your bail to be higher and you don’t want to be stuck there longer, you have to comply with anything they say. You are completely powerless.”
The sheriff’s department did not respond to questions regarding Brock’s allegations.
Brock said he was booked on three felony charges of mayhem, resisting arrest and obstruction, along with a misdemeanor charge of failure to obey a police officer. He said he lost his teaching job three days later due to the pending charges and is still unemployed. He said his girlfriend and his parents have been supporting him, but that he is also accruing debt.
Prosecutors have since decided to pursue two misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and battery on an officer, according to arrest records.
Brock said he has anxiety every time he drives his car, because he fears someone from the sheriff’s department will know the make and model of his car and pull him over. The arrest also took one of his greatest sources of fulfillment: his job. He worked as a 12th grade English teacher at an alternative school for at-risk youth.
“That was my self-worth. That’s where I got my fulfillment in life, was helping others, teaching these students and being there for them,” he said. “So when I lost that I just, that was my happiness, and it’s been a lot of depression and hopelessness.”
He said people have asked him if he regrets giving the deputy the middle finger as he drove by, but he said he doesn’t.
“I felt like that’s what I could do in that moment to stand up for that woman,” he said, adding that the deputy appeared to be harassing the woman. “I regret that he reacted so poorly and so angrily and then he beat me for that. But I don’t regret expressing my First Amendment right.”
In a first for LGBTQ+ people in California, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins has signed bills into law while serving as the state’s acting governor.
Atkins, who is a lesbian, is “the first woman and first openly LGBTQ person serving as acting governor to sign bills into law while doing so” in California, according to The Bay Area Reporter.
Atkins took the action last Thursday, when both Gov. Gavin Newsom and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis were out of the state. She signed three bills: Assembly Bill 354, updating membership on the Sacramento Regional Transit District board of directors; AB 410, upgrading Braille signage on motorized scooters and other mobility devices; and AB 588, dealing with membership on the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency board.
“These bills impact public transit, shared mobility devices, & local water management will continue our efforts to protect CA & enhance our communities,” Atkins tweeted.
“I’m thrilled to step into the governor’s shoes, though I have better shoes than him,” Atkins said during the signing ceremony, the Reporter notes. Her wife, Jennifer LeSar, joined her at the ceremony.
She will leave the Senate at the end of 2024 due to term limits, and she has set up a campaign account for a run for lieutenant governor then, when Kounalakis will also be term-limited. Kounalakis plans to run for governor.
The mayor of a California city in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area has drawn criticism from citizens and business leaders after refusing to issue a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month and describing LGBTQ+ identity as a “choice of lifestyle.”
As the Los Angeles Blade reports, 2023 was the first year since 2014 that the city of Torrance, California did not issue a Pride Month proclamation. While the city reportedly does not sponsor Pride events or fly the Pride flag over its city hall, former mayor Patrick Furey did issue the proclamations beginning in 2014.
But this year, Mayor George Chen, who was elected in 2022 after Furey retired, opted to break with that tradition, frustrating local LGBTQ+ residents and business owners who say the city has seen an uptick in hostility toward the queer community. Last year, Pride decorations outside local businesses were torn down, according to the Daily Breeze.
Early last month, the paper reported that Chen turned down a request to issue the annual Pride Month proclamation. The mayor said that his decision was not meant to be a public condemnation of the LGBTQ+ community.
“To me, it was a proclamation request,” Chen told the Daily Breeze in early June. “I denied the proclamation request because this is a certain choice of lifestyle for some people, and I respect each person’s personal choice. It does not rise to a proclamation.”
However, the choice to play pickleball apparently does rise to that level; earlier this year, Chen issued a proclamation declaring April National Pickleball Month, the L.A. Bladenotes.
Frustrated with the mayor’s decision and last year’s vandalism, members of the Downtown Torrance Association (DTA) reportedly came up with a plan to hang rainbow Pride banners on the downtown business district’s light poles, where vandals cannot reach them. The DTA also drafted its own Pride Month proclamation, which was ratified by all 50 of the DTA’s member businesses, the L.A. Blade reported.
Members of the organization read the proclamation aloud during a June 6 city council meeting. But according to the Daily Breeze, the mayor’s office has the right to decline any proclamation request made by a Torrance resident, per city policy. Chen declined the DTA’s request.
The L.A. Blade reports that the morning after the meeting, security cameras outside one downtown business captured city officials removing the DTA’s Pride banners. At a subsequent meeting after business owners rehung the banners, city representatives reportedly told DTA members that they could face misdemeanor charges if they did not remove them.
Additionally, Chen and the Torrance city council have reportedly failed to issue formal statements condemning anti-LGBTQ+ graffiti that began appearing on city bridges.
The situation has been devastating for members of the local LGBTQ+ community and their allies.
“I’m seeing people in my community losing hope,” Adam Schwartz told the L.A. Blade. “It’s destroyed people’s trust in the city. A lot of people can hear this and go, ‘Oh, Torrance is such a backward, bigoted place,’ and that hurts everyone in Torrance.”
“It’s frustrating for me to see that I’m still not really welcome,” said Silas Quinn, a transgender Torrance native who moved back to the city last year. “I’m still not really what Torrance wants to be a part of their community.”
But Isabel (Douvan) Schwartz, who helped draft the DTA’s proclamation, remained defiant. “This will not stop the Downtown Torrance Association from finding other ways to celebrate Pride,” she told the L.A. Blade. “Next year, we will find another way to celebrate.”
Thursday, July 13, 2023 GLBT Historical Society Museum 4127 18th Street San Francisco, CA 941147:00 PM | General Reception 7:30 PM | Remarks by curator Julia RosenzweigTickets are $10.00 or free for members. Click here to reserve your ticket.
About the ExhibitionThe landscape of lesbian cartoons in the 1990s was small yet vibrant; full of passion, satire, self-deprecation, and deep-cutting political and social commentary. Publishing these cartoons in the early years of Curve magazine (which was named Deneuvemagazine between 1991-1995) was a natural fit, aligning with the pivotal lesbian publication’s cheeky voice and journalistic integrity, and enhancing both the aesthetics of the pages and its witty content. In the 1990s, these alternative artists had few platforms to publish their voices and their art. Curve magazine is proud to have been at the forefront of amplifying these marginalized voices and allowing them to further spread lesbian representation, culture, and humor.Artists showcased in this exhibit include Kris Kovick, Jennifer Camper, Hope Barrett, Rhonda Dicksion, Alison Bechdel, Cari Campbell, Andrea Natalie, Joan Hilty, Paige Braddock, Debby Earthdaughter, Diane DiMassa, Fish, Elizabeth Watasin, and Roberta Gregory.
Gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and several other Democratic senators walked out of the California Senate on Monday after a Republican honored Ric Grenell, an out gay former official who worked in President Donald Trump’s administration.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones (R) took to the senate floor to honor Grenell. He praised Grenell’s public service record and his historic appointment as the first out gay man ever to serve on a president’s cabinet. Grenell served as Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, and acting Director of National Intelligence (the last one lasted for about two months).
The senate floor “offered mute applause” during the honor, The Sacramento Bee reported. Grenell walked onto the Senate floor and then held a conference alongside Republican legislators on the Capitol steps afterward.
However, Sen. Wiener didn’t applaud Grenell. In fact, he and other California Senate Democrats walked off of the floor during the honor. Wiener also published a tweet noting that when the Democrat-led state senate passed a resolution earlier this month recognizing June as Pride Month, seven of the chamber’s eight Republicans refused to vote on it.
In his tweet, Weiner wrote, “Today, GOP is honoring Richard Grenell on our Senate floor, after having protested our actual Pride celebration. Grenell is a self-hating gay man. He’s a scam artist pink-washer for Trump & spreads anti-LGBTQ, anti-vax, election-denier conspiracy theories.”
Indeed, Grenell repeated Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” due to an unprecedented nationwide conspiracy of voter fraud that only occurred in the states that Trump lost. Grenell refused to provide proof of any such fraud when asked about it on live television. Republicans and Trump’s re-election campaign lost over 60 court cases alleging such fraud — most were thrown out due to lack of evidence. The fraud claims led to numerous death threats against election officials nationwide.
On March 21, 2021, Grenell compared COVID-19 vaccine requirements to Nazism. In May 2021, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum published an open letter signed by 50 Holocaust survivors urging politicians to stop making comparisons between modern social conditions and the Holocaust.
Grenell, while serving as the Republican National Committee’s senior adviser for LGBTQ+ outreach, called Trump “the most pro-gay president ever.” The Washington Post’s fact-checkers called Grenell’s statement “absurd” and awarded it “four Pinocchios” — its highest rating for lies. Grenell also opposes the Equality Act, legislation that would provide federal LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections, claiming it would be an attack on religion.
Grenell praised Trump’s so-called effort to decriminalize homosexuality “around the globe.” But the Trump administration made no actual substantial efforts to do so. In fact, Trump’s State Department called foreign anti-gay laws a form of “religious freedom” that it vowed to protect.
Two women ruined a San Diego public library’s Pride display by checking out nearly all of its LGBTQ+ books in protest.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Rancho Peñasquitos residents Amy Vance and Martha Martin checked out 14 books included in the display at Rancho Peñasquitos Library in Inland San Diego County because they objected to material that deals with sexual orientation and gender identity being available to children.
“Minor children have the right to belong to a community that respects their innocence and allows families to have conversations about sex and sexual attraction privately, and only when parents deem it appropriate,” the women wrote in a June 15 email to head librarian Misty Jones after checking out the books. “It’s time for the American public libraries to once again be a respectful space for young children to freely explore great ideas that unite and inspire us all, rather than places where controversial and divisive new ideological movements are given free rein to promote their theories and policy positions about sexuality to children without the consent or notification of parents.”
In her response to Vance and Martha, Jones defended the display, which she said was not in or near the library’s children’s section.
“Displays such as the one at Rancho Peñasquitos send a powerful message that LGBTQ+ patrons and their allies are respected members of our community,” Jones wrote. “They also serve to encourage conversations and dispel misconceptions and stereotypes that often surround the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Pride displays are much like other displays that recognize other cultures, holidays or causes so that we can recognize the experiences of others and have a more inclusive and equitable society,” she continued. “We are proud of our position in encouraging members of our community to learn, grow and celebrate our differences.”
“It seems like these two women were trying to hide LGBT people away,” Jen Labarbera, director of education and outreach for San Diego Pride, said. “We’ve fought many years to prevent that. There’s nothing wrong with being LGBT.”
San Diego city councilmember Marni von Wilpert, whose district includes Rancho Peñasquitos, said that she was shocked to see this kind of protest against LGBTQ+ books in San Diego. “Denying others the right to read LGBTQ-affirming books is just another way of telling LGBTQ people they don’t belong — and that’s dead wrong,” she said. “Everyone has the right to read what they want, but absolutely no one has the right to keep others from reading books that reflect their experiences and backgrounds.”
But Jones said that protests in the area against Pride displays and drag queen story time events have gotten progressively worse over the last five years.
Across the country, school and public libraries have increasingly become the focus of conservatives attempting to ban books dealing with the LGBTQ+ experience, while in some states armed members of far-right hate groups have shown up at local libraries to intimidate patrons attending drag queen story time events.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the library gives patrons five automatic renewals unless another patron requests a book they’ve checked out, so no action will be taken until the books are due back at the branch. If Vance and Martha do not return the books on time, the matter will be taken up by the library’s collections division.
In the meantime, city councilmember Wilpert told the paper she is working with nonprofit groups to raise money to replace the books, which reportedly cost around $235 in total.