California school board President Brooke Ashjian, of the conservative district of Fresno Unified, is back in the news and refusing to resign over the backlash from his opinions that teaching “LGBT education” in schools could turn kids gay.
The Mormon Trump supporter already faced criticism earlier this month from the ACLU, interim Superintendent Bob Nelson, and The Fresno Bee for his remarks about the newly implemented California Healthy Youth Act, which touches on the topic of LGBT people in society through age-appropriate sex education. Now he’s made matters much worse with wildly dramatic comments in a public school board meeting.
Ashjian took part in a public 5-hour overflow school board meeting on the 23rd, where he reportedly faced demands for his resignation from people in the audience.
His comments at the meeting are outrageous: He compared LGBT leaders to perpetrators of genocide against Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.
News Anchor Megan Rupe posted pictures of Ashjian’s comments on Twitter:
Here are some excerpts from his speech, with commentary, followed by the video:
“The day parents and our duly-elected representatives lose their voice in matters of education impacting our children is the day we morph from education to indoctrination, ” said Ashjian.
Yet it is Ashjian who is himself trying to make a case not to educate kids about the mere existence of LGBT people. He actually equates education on the matter to indoctrination. Ashjian said that the parents in his district gave him 90% of the vote, which empowered him to be a “watchman on the tower.”
He went on the mention his “watch,” invoking another reference to genocide:
“I say today, on behalf of our American-Armenian community: No not again. Not on my watch.”
He then said the objections to his ideas about LGBT people are fascist:
“If we cannot speak openly and freely, then how are we an open and free society? What do these LGBT leaders fear? Dialogue? Or could it be they simply want to silence anyone who may express or hold a different opinion? To me, this is pure fascism,” said Ashjian.
In reality, “dialogue” is what Ashjian himself is objecting to, out of fear that dialogue could make children gay (it doesn’t), which is actually what real fascism would look like. The obsession with abolishing “sexual deviance,” in youth especially, and enforcing “normal sexual behavior” is an actual hallmark of fascist governments (Maria Sop Quine. Population Politics in Twentieth Century Europe: Fascist Dictatorships and Liberal Democracies. Routledge, 1995. pp. 46–47). Not to mention the “otherism” that is dripping from his “watch tower” position of protecting children from the reality that some people are LGBT.
And of course, Trump is being called fascist more and more as he fails to reject them in his base.
Then we reach the point where the school board President really goes overboard:
“[LGBT leaders] like the Ottomans, are trying to be the thought police. They are trying to make people of faith 2nd class citizens, and they seek to silence our voices in the public square just like my great grandparents…and millions of others had to endure at the hands of the Ottomans before escaping to America.”
Here, Ashjian absurdly (maybe not strong enough a word) conjures the horrors of genocide, equating that to sex education. Simply telling children that LGBT people exist, to this man, is tantamount to killing millions of people.
It is the LGBT community who are made to feel like 2nd class citizens, not “people of faith” in this country, since “people of faith” never had to fight for the right to marry other people of faith.
Ashjian went as far as saying LGBT rights groups dishonor the Constitution, and literally mentioned a “slippery slope” to the Ottoman Empire, attacks on freedom of the press, and the usual GOP talking point – Freedom of religion.
Ironically, he then he went on to say that openly discussing subjects is what “Makes America Great.”
With that, I couldn’t agree more, which is exactly why the California Healthy Youth Act is serving America well – it openly discusses these subjects in a factual, age appropriate and realistic way. Stifling education and marginalizing LGBT people as actual 2nd class citizens appears to be Brooke Ashjian’s actual agenda; so surely if he lets go of the dramatic flourishes and contemplates it for a while, he might begin to see the irony.
Dr. Carole Goldsmith, President of Fresno City College, happens to be a lesbian. She defended Ashjian’s right to hold religious beliefs earlier this month and hoped that Ashjian wanted Fresno Unified to be the best school district possible. Now that he has compared LGBT rights leaders to fascists and perpetrators of genocide, it will be interesting to see if she has a follow-up statement.
She did post a comment on Facebook in support of the inclusive statement of UCSF Medical Center, who has a sign stating, “We welcome: All races, All religions, All countries of origin, All sexual orientations, All genders, All ethnicities, All abilities. We stand with you.”
See the video of Brooke Ashjian’s speech and more on the public reaction to Ashjian:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube