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NUHW joins fight against anti-LGBTQ+ extremists in Glendale

With far-right anti-LGBTQ agitators campaigning to gain a foothold on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Directors, NUHW members stood in solidarity this month with students, parents and teachers fighting to make their community safe and welcoming for everyone.

NUHW worked with the Glendale Teachers’ Association to hold a January 25 press conference about the rising threats to the LGBTQ+ community, both in Glendale and throughout Los Angeles, where anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes have increased significantly.

The press event outside Glendale City Hall was covered by many media outlets including ABC7, Fox11, NBC4, Estrella TV, KNX News Radio, La Opinion and the Glendale Press-News. Representing NUHW was Sarandon Gilbert, a medical social worker at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Gilbert said she’s seen an increase in patients who don’t want the LGBT Center’s name or letterhead on anything sent to their home because they’re concerned about being targeted. She also said that in her work with transgender youth, the bullying and targeted violence they often face “have long-term impacts on their social physical and mental health.”

“Healthcare workers see first-hand the negative long-lasting impacts of targeted violence on the queer community through its effect on our patients,” Gilbert said during the news conference. “It is all of our responsibility to unite and ensure our community is a safe place for all.”

Last summer, Glendale, which is home to NUHW’s Southern California headquarters, became a flashpoint in organized attacks on LGBTQ+ rights as agitators held violent protests outside of school board meetings upset over the district’s gender identity curriculum and policies. In response to the protests, NUHW’s Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution condemning far-right extremism.

The news conference included remarks from Glendale Teachers’ Association President Taline Arsenian as well as student, parent and elected leaders including State Senator Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Laura Friedman. Teachers warned that although headlines had died down, anti-LGBTQ+ forces continue to target the district and are challenging incumbents in the March election for two seats on the school board.

“Educators’ names, where they work, their room number, and other personal information have been posted and shared on social media, Arsenian said during the news conference. “There have even been threats of physical violence via phone call and email.”

Cynthia Chan, added, “I have been a teacher in this district for two decades, and I have never seen anything like this. I’m scared.”

A recent report by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations found that crimes based on sexual orientation were the second most common form of hate crime in the county, having increased 20 percent in 2022. The same report also found that there were a record number of crimes reported against transgender individuals and that 91 percent of those crimes were classified as “violent.”

“We’re proud to join with Glendale students, teachers and LGBTQ+ organizations to send a clear message that our community is for everyone,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “Our members, many of whom provide mental health therapy in Los Angeles, see firsthand how rising anti-LGBTQ+ violence is harming the physical and emotional wellbeing of their LGBTQ+ patients, and we are united in our commitment to their health and safety.”

Arsenian said that Glendale teachers feel supported by allies who have stood with them against the right-wing attacks. “Everyone who values a diverse and inclusive community must respond to this coordinated effort,” she said prior to the news conference. “We are grateful to partner with the NUHW and other community members to speak against the purposeful intimidation of educators and healthcare workers who are only trying to serve their students and patients.”

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