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The Hollywood Reporter

A TV Writer’s Plea in Wake of LGBTQ Confrontations: Don’t Let Hate Groups Flor-nicate California Schools

By Daisy Gardner,


It’s been a week. As a TV writer and Los Angeles Unified School District parent, I’ve bounced between WGA picket lines, school pick-ups, and fighting Proud Boys. I wasn’t expecting to be here. The bewildered retired librarian I chatted with outside the Glendale Unified School District Board meeting last Tuesday also wasn’t expecting it. You’re probably not, either. Welcome to the new battlefield in public education: fighting violent paramilitary groups outside of your child’s school.

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I’m the parent of an LGBTQ kid in LAUSD. When I had heard that school staff at nearby Saticoy Elementary in North Hollywood had reportedly been harassed for scheduling a “Pride” assembly (reading a book called The Big Book of Families ), I went there to show solidarity for the teacher who had fled in fear, as well as the school staff and the LGBTQ community. But as I parked for the counter-protest, I wondered, “Was this even necessary?” It seemed like anger over misinformation that could be cleared up by parents and school officials sitting down together.

I rounded the corner, coming face to face with at least a hundred angry childless men and the occasional woman wearing matching T-shirts. They had brought in trucks and buses with banners that read, “Leave Our Kids Alone.” The group was well-funded, well-organized and frankly scary as hell. The men spotted me and my fellow PTA parents. They called us “groomers” and “pedophiles.” On a PA system, one man announced his desire to “zip-tie the principal” and to hurt teachers, staff and those present on the pro-educator, pro-Pride side.

LAUSD School Board president Kelly Gonez had to be removed for her own safety. According to journalist Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, a member of the group carried bear mace (illegal). Crowd members yelled, “Get out of here, Jew!” and “f—ot!” at him. One Parents’ Supporting Teachers member stood next to fellow LAUSD folks and livestreamed the scene, shocked. My babysitter, who had shown up with a tiny rainbow sign, stood on the sidewalk too scared to approach, sobbing.
Stop Threatening Educators protest sign

In my time at LAUSD, I’ve seen a lot of “concerned parents.” I’ve never seen anything like this. While it took the press time to catch up, evidence mounted that a few Saticoy parents had teamed up with a sizable group called “Glendale Unified School District Parents Voices” who later took credit for organizing everything. They not only brought the trucks, banners and T-shirts, they drafted the Proud Boys, J6ers and assorted right-wing agitators as well … to an elementary school.

Declaring victory, this same group took their show on the road to the Glendale Unified School District Board Meeting on Tuesday. Galvanized and pissed off about what happened at Saticoy, I went, too. I once more witnessed the same men threaten parents, teachers, queer kids and activists for a few hours before leaving their designated protest area, encircling the pro-LGBTQ, pro-educator group, and begin to throw fists. You’ve heard about the rest on the news, which identified the agitators as Proud Boys and their ilk.

This is important. There is an infamous state where the Proud Boys have targeted educators.

In the Vanity Fair article, “Smart People Are Falling for Stupid Lies: How One Florida County Has Become Ground Zero for the Far Right’s Education Blitz,” writer Kathryn Joyce chronicles how extremist groups like the Proud Boys have targeted schools, school boards and educators to decimate Sarasota’s once-excellent school system. It’s now here in California.

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Parents, teachers, and regular people need to know this is happening in our state — and that it is not about LGBTQ issues. This movement is about extremist groups attacking and commandeering schools. There are conservative stakeholder parents within public schools, and they deserve to be heard. However, any group that threatens violence must not be tolerated. When dialogue becomes impossible, fear reigns. Teachers quit. School board members resign. Schools fail.

Here in L.A., our schools are still holding. LAUSD superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, the LAUSD School Board and the GUSD School Board have been fearless and resolute, standing up for all kids and stakeholders.

But school board members can’t do it alone. Teachers can’t do it alone. We need to have our school leaders’ backs. There is a playbook, started by a badass, fearless group of parents called “Safe Redland Schools” who took on the extremists (many of whom came to both Saticoy and Glendale) that tried to bully their community in the Inland Empire.

“You literally have to get together as if you’re just a bunch of your girls in the living room and you’re trying to figure out who’s fucking who,” Safe Redlands Schools founder Amber Easley said. “Grab screenshots, create folders, give names, Google spreadsheet, and sure enough, they’ll start tying together.”

A parent I spoke with from a similar group in Glendale, “GUSD For All,” concurred, “They’re messing with moms who love true crime podcasts. I am happy to go down a rabbit hole.”

These parents are not only doing the research, they’re physically showing up to put their bodies between themselves, their educators and these hate groups. To drive the most violent groups out of your community, it will take every normal person, every pissed-off retired librarian, every overscheduled mom, every harried dad to meet these groups without weapons and without violence. We must collectively calmly look these would-be fascists in the eye and let them know, “Go ahead and try.” If these goons hurt us — the people planning the Jog-A-Thons, running the fundraisers, weeding the playgrounds at Beautification Day — they hurt their own disgusting lie that they’re doing it “for the kids.”

I have to go. It’s the last week of school, and there are achievements to celebrate. Please be ready to call every parent on your volunteer list. I’ve compiled a list of handy references list in this thread . Don’t let them attack public education.

Daisy Gardner is a TV writer, showrunner and LAUSD parent. Her credits include Single Drunk Female , Silicon Valley , The Goldbergs and 30 Rock .

June 9, 6:39 p.m. Corrected “Redlands for Safe Schools” to Safe Redlands Schools.

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