April 1, 2023

UNCIVIL DISCOURSE: Police break up Michigan school board meeting disrupted by anti-LGBTQ protests

UNCIVIL DISCOURSE: Police break up Michigan school board meeting disrupted by anti-LGBTQ protests

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A Michigan school board meeting is shut down after anti-LGBTQ protesters turn what should have been a civil discourse on book selection into chaos. Angry at the inclusion of some LGBTQ books in the Dearborn school system’s libraries, protesters carried signs with Bible verses while shouting, yelling, and booing the school board members. Police had to intervene.

“Please calm down…Dearborn is better than this, “Police Chief Issa Shahin told the crowd.

“We can have a spirited debate, but we can’t conduct ourselves this way,” he told the crowd. “This community is better than this. We’re brothers and sisters regardless of race, ethnicity, religion.”

This isn’t the first anti-LGBTQ protest. According to the Detroit Free Press, in September, protesters gathered outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn carrying signs that said, “Stop brainwashing our children,” and “Quit grooming students, you sexually perverted animals.”

The mostly Muslim crowd was led by Nagi Almudhegi, who started with a prayer, “I seek refuge in God Almighty, from Satan, the cursed one, in the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have blessed, and not those whom You are angered with, nor those whom are astray. Amen.”

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As he spoke, some in the crowd held up signs denouncing books and educational materials in the public schools that they believe are too explicit for children. “Stop brainwash our children,” read the sign of a woman cloaked in a robe. “Quit grooming students, you sexually perverted animals,” read another placard held up by Wadeea Yassir, a Dearborn resident who was one of hundreds at the Sept. 25 rally.

“One woman with a headscarf held up a poster with a red X over a Pride flag that said: “Keep your twisted mindset to yourself.” Some hurled anti-gay slurs at a counter-protester who is trans, Sam Smalley, and told him: “Go cry.” – Detroit Free Press

Last month, Dearborn Public Schools temporarily removed seven books after some parents objected to the content, claiming “sexually-explicit content,” and being “unsuitable for children.” But apparently, that wasn’t good enough. Though a range of topics, from district funding to special education, were on the board’s agenda, the meeting was commandeered by those angry at the book selection process.

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“District board member Adel Mozip added that librarians had been targeted by parents and labeled sexual groomers. “This is a serious accusation and undermines our educators,” he told the crowd. – The Daily Beast

School board president Roxanne McDonald acknowledged that the school district had an “outdated book review process” when determining new materials for students. However, she said the board wanted to work with parents to ensure that all voices and concerns were heard in revising the plan,” The Daily Beast reported. McDonald was booed by the crowd after announcing a 3-minute time limit for speakers.

In an October 5th statement, the district announced that parents can opt their children out of certain materials through an online portal, but it didn’t satisfy those wanting to control what other parents choose for their own kids.

“We want a system in place that is fair to all,” superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko said. “[We] want to respect the rights of all parents when we make these decisions.”

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This is just the latest example of extremists imposing their theocracy and ideology and attempting to suppress the representation of an entire community – and it’s dangerous.

The right-wing narrative painting members of the LGBTQ community as “groomers” and sexual predators have put the lives of millions in danger. Inclusion matters, representation matters, tolerance and acceptance matters.

The school board members left the meeting.

Original reporting by Brooke Leigh Howard at The Daily Beast

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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