An elementary school in Oakland, California, topped off its school year with a “Pride Day” celebrating all types of families, including those in which the parents consider themselves to be lesbian, “gay,” bisexual, transgender or queer.
Principal Chelsea Toller opened the June 5 assembly with an auditorium full of students in kindergarten through fifth grade by saying, “This morning we are so lucky to be celebrating our first Glenview Elementary Family Pride celebration.”
Toller said she was finishing her first year at Glenview Elementary and “was thinking about how much I’ve learned this year.”
A 26-minute video of the event was posted on YouTube but was removed within hours after conservatives began posting comments expressing their outrage that a public, tax-funded school was introducing such controversial content to students as young as five years old.
You can watch the video here, however, captured by a pro-family group and reposted before it was removed from YouTube:
Toller said she had learned three things during the school year that she wanted to share with her students.
"The first thing I learned is we are a very, very diverse school," she said. "We have people that look different. We have people that live with different kinds of families, we have people who have different-colored skin, who talk different or speak other languages, and we have people who are in wheelchairs."
Toller then compared those differences with people "who have two moms and two dads or four moms or one mom or one grandma. We have all different kinds of families at our school, and that's one thing I've loved that I've learned about our school.
"And the other thing I've learned about our school is we're really respectful. We are all very kind to each other even if we're different, especially if we're different," she said.
The third thing she said she learned was that the school loved to have fun, and so she wanted to "celebrate all of the different kinds of families and people who are in our school."
She then turned the assembly over to Carrie Kessler, a parent of two children at Glenview, to talk about "this awesome flag that's behind us, this beautiful flag."
Kessler explained the meaning of the LGBTQ flag to the students.
"I'm really excited about today. I'm excited that it's June. Pride Month," Kessler told the children. "Anybody recognize this flag? This flag is not that old. This flag is the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride. And this flag was created by a San Francisco artist by the name of Gilbert Baker in 1978. It's a symbol of pride for the LGBTQ unity, and it is flown very proudly as a symbol of pride and freedom for members of that community."
She then explained what each color on the flag symbolized. Red represents life, orange is for healing, yellow is for sunlight, green symbolizes nature, blue is serenity and violet represents spirit.
"So now you know," Kessler told the children.
She then introduced to the kids a "gay" men's choir.
"I'm really, really excited. We are honored today to have very special guests, who are going to come up and sing for all of us today," Kessler said. "Please give a warm welcome to the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus."
The children clapped, and then the all-male choir led them in a sing-along under the direction of Stephanie Lynne Smith, a lesbian who has a long history with the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, whose mission is to "support GLBT choruses as we change the world through song," according to its website.
In the first song, "I Sing Out," the homosexual men sang of their desire to find love and understanding "but instead I hear 'an eye for an eye.'"
The Gay Men's Choir was followed by another mother, Sherri, who displayed the words to a poem by Audre Lorde, a self-described radical feminist lesbian.
"These are very famous words," she said, that "encouraged people to be who they are."
Sherri then directed the children to read the poem aloud: "Who I am is what fulfills me and what fulfills the vision I have of a world."
"Awesome," Sherri said. She then asked the children for their interpretations of Lorde's poem.
"I think this means 'who I am,' as like, 'I'm proud of who I am,'" said one boy.
"That's right. And just to add to that, love who you are … be happy with who you are even if it means being different from everyone else, it doesn't really matter. Because loving who you are, being true to who you are, that's what you're going to share with the world, and the world will appreciate that," Sherri said.
Children were then shown a video called "A Family Is a Family."
The video showed a series of young children speaking about their families.
"What is your family?" one child asks.
"It can be two moms, two dads or one mom," answers a small boy who appears no more than four or five years old, as men sing softly in the background, "So many combinations, so many combinations."
"It doesn't matter if you have two moms. It doesn't matter if you have two dads," says another girl in the video. "A family is a family."
One boy in the video said he felt "lucky" to have just one parent.
"If you just have one parent and you get in trouble, only one person gets mad at you, and only one person nags at you," the boy reasoned. "So I think I'm pretty lucky."
A girl then appears in the video with two men. "My dads are gay, and gay means where two men or two women love each other," the girl explains. "It's sort of just like having a mom and dad who love each other; it's just that it's a man and a man, or a woman and a woman."
'Only a few complaints'
Toller referred all questions by WND to Troy Flint, public relations director for Oakland Unified School District.
Flint said Glenview parents were notified ahead of time via email and on the school's website of the event, including a synopsis of its content.
He said the idea to hold the assembly would have come from the school.
"We do have some district-wide policies protecting gay rights and the rights of transgender populations, but decisions on specific programs would depend on that specific school," Flint said.
He said the Family Pride Day event, held in conjunction with "gay" pride month, was included in the school newsletter that was emailed to parents twice before June 5.
"I'm not aware of any complaints at Glenview. Some parents elect to keep their students home, but that's a decision that is made according to their individual consciences," Flint said.
He said there have been a "handful" of complaints in the past when schools in Oakland hold such events.
"There have been a few, but only a handful, no widespread protests," he said.
Glenview Elementary also brought in homosexual activist Gayle Pitman on June 5 to give a reading of her new children's book, "This Day in June." She touts the book on her Facebook page as "teaching the values of love and acceptance." Pitman, a professor of psychology at Sacramento City College "with expertise in clinical psychology and the psychology of women and gender," writes children's books about LGBT issues, according to her Facebook biography.
Some Catholic and pro-family websites criticized Glenview Elementary's Pride Day as not appropriate for a public school and certainly not "age appropriate" for grade-school children to have gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyles presented as equal with traditional marriage.
Catholic.com's "Catholic Answers Forum" posted the video with a link to another article on MassResistance.com titled, "How schools are pushing transgenderism to children. More radical and aggressive than ever."
"It doesn't happen by accident," the article stated. "The homosexual-transgender movement is working hard to indoctrinate schoolchildren that 'transgenderism' and cross-dressing are normal and just another way of becoming 'who you really are.'"
California and Massachusetts are leading the way in this regard.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a controversial bill into law in August 2013 allowing the state's public-school students to choose which bathrooms they use, boys or girls, and whether they participate in boy or girl sports.
The law would cover the state's 6.2 million elementary and high-school kids.
Supporters said the law would help cut down on bullying against transgender students.
GLSEN applies the pressure
The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network is at the forefront of lobbying public schools for greater access to students and pushing for wider acceptance of LGBTQ issues. The group is the nation's largest "gay" and transgender activist organization working inside schools in all 50 states, "championing LGTB issues in K-12 education," according to a copy of its spring conference program obtained by WND. The conference was held April 5 in Boston.
The group's agenda is pushed through "student led efforts" and includes encouraging students and teachers to "come out" openly as homosexual, transgender or bisexual, teaching them how to establish "gay" student associations in middle schools and high schools while broaching the topic with students as early as kindergarten.
Workshop 3.1 of the conference, listed in the official program, was titled "Starting a Middle School GSA: A Sustainable, Grassroots Approach," followed by a summary of the workshop as "Practical advice and encouragement for students, staff, parents and community members who would like to establish a sustainable GSA in their local middle school.
The conference also included workshops to examine "strategies for introducing vital LGBT inclusive history curriculum into schools."
Workshop 3.2 was on the topic "Queering the Classroom: Providing a Safe Learning Environment for All." The full program for the event can be read by clicking here.