Protest against Pride Month turns violent outside Southern California school board meeting
3 people arrested as supporters, opponents faced off over celebrating LGBTQ Pride in schools
Protesters briefly scuffled and punches flew Tuesday as a Southern California school district decided whether to recognize June as Pride Month.
Several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of the Glendale Unified School District headquarters, split between those who support or oppose educating students about LGBTQ topics in schools.
Some opponents wore T-shirts emblazoned with: "Leave our kids alone."
Police quickly moved in to stop clashes, separated the two groups and cleared the parking lot.
TV reports also showed a man being taken away after lying down in the street and refusing to move.
In a news release Tuesday evening, the Glendale Police Department said the protest was mostly peaceful but "a small group of individuals engaged in behaviour deemed unsafe and a risk to public safety" and at least three people were arrested on various charges, including unlawful use of pepper spray and willfully obstructing officers.
"After the initial arrests, additional attempts to de-escalate the crowd failed," the police news release read. " Once the protest exceeded that bounds of peaceful assembly, a dispersal order was given just after 6:00 p.m."
Additional police officers were called in to assist with breaking up the protest and to ensure safety. No injuries were reported.
Later Tuesday night, inside a packed meeting room, the school board approved a resolution designating June as LGBTQ Pride Month, for the fifth year in a row.
However, most of those who addressed the school board discussed broader issues of how sex and gender are handled under district policy, with supporters arguing that LGBTQ children need to feel safe and included in classrooms while opponents contended that schools are usurping parental authority and pushing unnecessary and even harmful views on gender.
In an earlier statement, the district said "intentional and harmful disinformation has been circulating about what is being taught" and said it follows state law and education policies.
Tensions over LGBTQ rights nationwide
Across the nation, Pride Month celebrations are kicking off amid rising backlash in some places against LGBTQ rights.
Community parade organizers, school districts and even professional sports terms have faced protests for flying rainbow flags and honouring drag performers.
While some Republican-led states are limiting classroom conversations about gender and sexuality and banning gender-affirming care, some Democratic cities and states are seeking to expand LGBTQ rights and to honour the community's contributions.
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Earlier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District school board unanimously voted to recognize Pride Month.
The resolution also encouraged all schools in the nation's second-largest district to incorporate lessons on the LGBTQ community into the curriculum and affirmed a "commitment to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment for all LGBTQ+ students, families, and staff members."
With files from CBC News