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Parental Rights Coalition, Opponents Clash in Los Angeles Over Secret Gender Transitions

Parental Rights Coalition, Opponents Clash in Los Angeles Over Secret Gender Transitions

About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

8/23/2023

Updated: 8/28/2023

LOS ANGELES—About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 22 to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools.
The march, called Leave Our Kids Alone, was organized by several groups, including SoCal Parent Advocates, Dad Army, and Mom Army, who say they oppose “indoctrination,” “sexualization” and “grooming” of children in schools.
The coalition backs parental notification policies that would require school staff to notify parents if their children identify as transgender or try to identify as a gender other than the sex listed on their birth certificate.
The group gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall, then marched to Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters at Third Street and Beaudry Avenue, where some sat in the intersection.
There, they were met by a smaller group of counter-protesters waving pride flags and claiming to support LGBT youth, prompting police to set up skirmish lines to keep the groups separated.
Police in riot gear repeatedly shouted at the counter-protesters to “back up,” as some of the activists were filmed pushing the officers. Two were arrested for resisting police and allegedly throwing items at the officers.
The police ultimately shut down the protest, declaring it an unlawful assembly, but both groups lingered in the area, until they dissipated at around 2 p.m., about three hours after the protest began.
About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Opponents of parental notification policies say that such can put LGBT students at risk if their families are unaccepting of their chosen gender identity.
Organizers of the counter-rally, including Ground Game LA and Queer Nation Los Angeles, accused the parental-rights group of “trying to bring their hate to Los Angeles City Hall” and promoting a “hate-filled, fascist agenda of fear.”
Some in the Leave Our Kids Alone group waved American flags, while others carried signs with slogans such as “Parental Rights Matter” and “Parental rights are non-negotiable,” and many wore T-shirts with the words “Leave our kids alone.”
About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Parental Pushback

A whirlwind of blowback from parental rights advocacy groups has swept the state in recent weeks over legislation promoting non-notification to parents and guardians and so-called “gender-affirming care.”
In February, California State Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) introduced Assembly Bill 1314, which would have required school districts to notify parents within three days if their child changes their gender identity at school.
But the bill—intended to counter the Department of Education guidelines suggesting school districts keep gender transitions secret from parents or guardians unless the child consents to inform his or her parents—was killed before it was heard in committee.
The “guidance” was issued “with no legal authority, with no Supreme Court precedent,” Mr. Essayli said at a recent press conference outside the state Capitol building in Sacramento.
Chino Valley Unified School District was the first in the state to approve a policy similar to AB 1314, requiring school staff to tell parents if their child identifies as a gender other than their biological sex.
Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified, speaks at a press conference outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento on Aug. 14, 2023. (Courtesy of California Family Council)

Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified, speaks at a press conference outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento on Aug. 14, 2023. (Courtesy of California Family Council)

Since then, three others—Murrieta Valley UnifiedTemecula Valley Unified, and Anderson Union High School District—have followed suit. Orange Unified will decide whether to adopt the policy in September.
A parent who goes by the pseudonym Ben Richards for fear of retaliation told The Epoch Times that as the founder of SoCal Parent Advocates, he has seen the parental rights movement grow exponentially in the past few years, especially as left-wing groups try to quash it.
“It’s backfiring,” he said. “The persecution that these parents are facing is growing our movement.”
He said that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is losing control of the narrative of pushing for more state control over parents and local school boards.
The Leave Our Kids Alone group took root in Los Angeles and is supported by about 50 other parental rights groups in Southern California, he said.
A parent who goes by the pseudonym Ben Richards for fear of retaliation speaks at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

A parent who goes by the pseudonym Ben Richards for fear of retaliation speaks at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

“We are absolutely united, and we came with a message of love. We sang the national anthem, we held a prayer, and we had all races, colors, and creeds, and even people from the LGB community, supporting us,” he said. “We believe that we need to have this law in place to protect our parental rights because we see a radical gender ideology in the public schools being ... celebrated to our children behind our backs.”
Parents have been finding books, such as “This Book is Gay” and “Gender Queer,” in the hands of children, but when they try to get “pornography” removed from school libraries, they’re smeared and branded as “white Christian nationalists,” he said.
Parental groups say that “This Book is Gay” teaches children how to get on sex apps and perform sex acts, while “Gender Queer” is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe, recounting the author’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and exploration of gender identity and sexuality.
“These parents are targeted and attacked by the left on all levels, whether it’s Antifa, the teachers unions, all the way up to Sacramento,” Mr. Richards said.
He blames the governor, Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Perris), and Tony Thurmond, superintendent of California’s public schools, for pushing gender theory in schools and taking a heavy-handed approach toward local school board decisions.
“We want this parental notification because we believe there is a system that’s trying to emphasize this harmful ideology to our children in our taxpayer-funded schools,” he said.
Mr. Richards also sits on the board of directors for the Concerned Parents of California PAC, which was formed to promote parental rights school board candidates in the upcoming 2024 elections.
“To the people who say ‘take your kids out of public schools,’ [we say] fine, give us our tax money back,” he said.
About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

About 200 parental rights demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Lusine Karikosyanwho has two children attending school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, told The Epoch Times that the school board has shown no support for parents and paid no heed to public outcry demanding that it put parental notification policies on the board agenda for public debate and a vote.
Tensions escalated in early June when parents protested a pride assembly at Saticoy Elementary School, located in North Hollywood.
“Our school board members came, but they sided instead with Antifa,” Ms. Karikosyan said. “They were wearing face masks that said Antifa, so I refuse to call it the LGBTQ activist side because I feel like that’s such a horrible representation of that community.”
Antifa, a militant organization, is known to regularly disrupt rallies associated with parental rights that oppose gender theory or transgenderism.
“They automatically think it’s ‘hateful,’ and I don’t know which part of parental rights could be identified [or] misconstrued as hateful,” she said.
Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony sided with counter-protesters at the downtown Los Angeles rally.
While adults in the LGBT community are free to make their own decisions, children should be left alone, Ms. Karikosyan said.
“Let kids grow up, become adults, and make adult decisions when they’re ready,” she said. “To push this on kids as early as elementary school, or to make all these inappropriate books become part of curriculum or become readily available in libraries is just horrible, and horrifying to parents,” she said.
Police officers monitor the situation at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Police officers monitor the situation at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools, on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Because parents don’t know what’s going on in schools, parental rights groups are trying to raise awareness. They’re not against the LBGT community, Ms. Karikosyan said.
“And, it’s not the teachers. It’s not even the principals,” she said. “This is all coming from the teachers’ unions and the board members who are pushing it down on them.”
She said that some teachers have even reached out to parental rights groups saying that they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“We have teachers reaching out to us saying, ‘Hey, we don’t agree with this, but we don’t know what to do, because if we speak up ... they’ll just fire us,’” Ms. Karikosyan said.
“They’re stuck in a really tight situation. It’s really scary times.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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