A chain of anti-LGBTQ+ activity at Saticoy Elementary School built to a rally organized on June 2, leaving parents and LGBTQ+ advocates fearing for the safety of the students.
An anti-LGBTQ+ protest was organized on Instagram after a Pride celebration was scheduled at Saticoy Elementary in North Hollywood. The Pride celebration included a book reading about different types of families. Shortly after the celebration was announced, someone broke into the school after-hours to steal a transgender teacher’s pride flag and burn it. The same teacher was also doxxed by right-wing activists.
Some news outlets have reported that the anti-LGBTQ+ event was planned by parents concerned with how sexual education is taught to young students. Knock LA attempted to interview some of these parents, but was met with silence or a negative response. Two young adult women on the anti-LGBTQ+ side said they were there because “it’s cool.”
“Glendale has had enough!” shouted one of the right-wing protest leaders over his PA. “Time to bust out the zip ties!” he told the police, continuing with “I’d like to zip tie the principal!”
One protester announced over her bullhorn that this was not an anti-LGBTQ+ event, and that she supported everyone’s gender/sexuality “choice.” The man shouting “f****t” repeatedly at the LGBTQ+ crowd — adding “you’re just mad because no one wants to fuck you. You’re ugly!” — seemed to contradict her. When the group later marched, random passersby were also met with the same vitriol.
It’s difficult to say whether the couple protesters with microphones and bullhorns who dominated the action — or the louder ones hurling slurs — spoke for the entire crowd; however, none of the attendees challenged those speakers or asked them to retract any of their statements. Additionally, most were not willing to provide comment to Knock LA.
Protesters accusing all press of being “corrupt liberals,” “untrustworthy,” and “Marxics” [sic] likely contributed to the difficulty of obtaining comments from the protesters. “You’re pretty, but you’re not a journalist,” said the man with the mic to Fox 11 reporter Christina Pascucci. Knock LA reporter Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, also covering the event, was told “get out of here, you Jew,” by one of the protesters.
After speaking to over a dozen protesters, Knock LA was able to speak to one woman who claimed she had children at the school. However, she refused to share any details that would confirm this. “We’re here for the protection of our children,” she said. “When it comes to issues of sex and gender, we should decide how and when they are taught.”
Many of the protesters seemed to be unaware of the LAUSD policy that allows parents to opt their children out of sexual education when it is first taught to students in fifth grade, or that LAUSD does not actually have the power to stop parents from teaching their own children about the topic how and when they decide on their own.
A Los Angeles Times reporter covering this event protected the identity of a right-wing provocateur by granting them anonymity. The same reporter recently refused to do the same for a mutual aid organizer working with the city’s unhoused community.
“We hope that we can continue to love them into understanding that the message of love is what wins,” said Renay Grace Rodriguez, political vice president of the local Stonewall Democratic Club. “They’re being told a bunch of lies and misinformation about how children are being taught about sex in first or second grade. That’s not true. What they’re being taught, in fifth grade, when we have mandatory sex education [which parents can opt in or out of] … children are already having menstrual cycles. I had mine when I was in fourth grade. So to not teach children about that is frightening for them to go through it without knowing about it. They don’t want that to happen, they have to wait until junior high, and I’m afraid that’s just a bit too late.”
Most of the protesters were wearing white T-shirts with the words “leave our kids alone” in large print on the front. At one point, they blasted “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, which famously contains that same phrase in the lyrics. Roger Waters, one of the writers of the song, is also well known for his left-wing politics, and recently posted pro-pride photos from his latest show to his Instagram.
It’s unclear if the protesters are familiar with how T-shirts work. (Photos: John Motter | Knock LA)
“I think it’s obvious when people are yelling ‘pedophilia this’ or ‘thong and genitalia that’ at a school, it’s pretty clear who the creep is,” said LGBTQ+ activist May about the protesters.
“This is what Pride is all about,” said June Paniouchkine, another LGBTQ+ activist on why they were in attendance. “To unify a coalition in favor of Pride, in favor of Pride education, and to make sure children are comfortable learning about who they are, who they can be, and who their peers are.”
Activist and former candidate for mayor of LA Gina Viola noted the difference in the treatment of the two groups by LAPD: the pro-LGBTQ+ side was restricted to the narrow sidewalk while the reactionaries were allowed to block the street and march without a permit. Police officers were also seen hugging and shaking hands with protesters. One protester was seen carrying bear mace, something outlawed by LA City Council in 2017.
Many of the homophobic and antisemitic protesters escalated things further later in the day when they did march. One of the counterprotesters was berated to the point of tears, and then mocked for crying.
An organizer of Occupy ICE and similar actions, who asked to go by “Billy,” came to the event right after dropping off his son at school. As a concerned parent of an LAUSD student (verified by Knock LA), he said he worried for the safety of the teacher and students at the school who had received threats.
During the march, the LAPD split the dwindling counterprotesters in half, pulling many of the protesters into the pro-LGBTQ+ contingent, something Billy felt was a deliberate move on their part.
An unhoused man, who was attending the event in solidarity of the pro-LGBTQ+ counterprotesters and was asking for food, was beaten unconscious by the right-wing protesters. Billy tried to push through the crowd to assist the man and was attacked; protesters repeatedly punched and kicked him, continuing even after he had been pushed to the ground. He believes he suffered a concussion as a result.
This beating happened within view of LAPD officers, with several minutes passing until they intervened. The police threatened Billy with arrest for possessing a “deadly weapon”: a walking stick he uses for mobility. The unhoused man later regained consciousness and walked away from the scene. No arrests were made.
The district’s city councilmember, Paul Krekorian, apparently could not prioritize attending the action, but later issued a statement. Jillian Burgos, member of the North Hollywood neighborhood council and candidate for LA City Council District 2, who did attend, said: “There’s a miscommunication. People seem to believe that this is about the sexualization of children, and it’s not. I’m here in support of the LGBT community, to show that love is love, and that not all families look the same.”
The GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society and other progressive Armenian groups are organizing against a similar protest of the Board of Education in Glendale this Tuesday afternoon. A GoFundMe has been started to support the unhoused man who was assaulted.