Amid a contentious meeting of the Glendale Unified School District board on Tuesday evening, where pro-and anti-LGBTQ+ protesters faced off over issues that touch on how schools teach gender and sexuality, attendees were suddenly told to shelter in place.
Law enforcement had declared an unlawful assembly after a fight broke out outside the building, officials said.
The interruption came after about an hour of public comments, most of them in defense of the LGBTQ community.
At the meeting at GUSD headquarters on North Jackson Street, protesters had swarmed outside prior to the start of the proceedings, many documenting the scene with their smartphones. Those who were protesting the board's LGBTQ+ policies chanted, "Leave our kids alone" while naming each of the five members of the school board.
But those who were able to speak at the meeting — with the public comment portion regarding an agenda item on Pride Month cut short due to the shelter-in-place order — were in favor of LGBTQ+ acceptance, with many thanking the board for protecting inclusivity.
City and school officials had expected things to become heated. The meeting was held amid a simmering climate on LGBTQ+ rights that boiled over last week when protesters violently clashed at a North Hollywood elementary school over a Pride-themed assembly.
The meeting's live stream went dark for a few minutes before Nahabedian said that law enforcement would not allow new speakers to enter the building. People were also told not to leave the building for a short time.
Protesters had gathered outside the district offices before the 5 p.m. meeting, filling the parking lot. Anti- and pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrators faced one another, with Glendale police officers standing between the sides.
Board meetings have been attended by protesters for the last several weeks, with anti-LGBTQ+ activists criticizing district staffers' handling of LGBTQ+ material and policies.
"This is about, specifically, gender ideology being put upon and thrust upon children at Glendale Unified," Jordan Henry, who is running for Glendale City Council, told The Timeson Tuesday.
GUSD Parents Voices, a conservative group, called for parents to attend Tuesday's meeting, posting: "Join the fight against indoctrination in our schools."
LGBTQ+ advocacy organization glendaleOUT also urged supporters to attend Tuesday's meeting.
" Tuesday, June 6 is an action of love and gratitude to our GUSD educators and administrators for all the work they've done this year on behalf of our entire Glendale community," glendaleOUT said on Facebook.
"We really just want to keep the peace and keep it simple and keep the queer community safe and let them know that they're loved," said Grey James, a member of glendaleOUT.
Glendale police said the clashes between protesters have included shouting but no physical confrontations. The department will have a presence at Tuesday's meeting, officials said.
A fight broke out outside Saticoy Elementary on Friday where more than 100 parents rallied against a Pride Day assembly. Last month a Pride flag belonging to a transgender teacher at the school was burned.
On Monday, the Glendale school released a statement and FAQ in response to criticisms raised by the anti-LGBTQ+ activists.
"Recently, intentional and harmful disinformation has been circulating about what is being taught in our district and the ways we serve our students," the Glendale Unified School District said in a statement. "This includes disinformation about LGBTQIA+ curriculum, sex education, and supporting transgender and gender nonconforming youth."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.