Parents protesting against progressive school policies that aim to keep children's gender identity a secret clashed with counterprotesters who support the policy in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, leading the police department to declare an unlawful assembly.
Nonetheless, the rally of nearly 200 people – organized by the group behind the Instagram handle "Leave Our Kids Alone" – continued as the LAPD reportedly began making arrests among the smaller group of unruly counterprotesters. Officers created a barrier to keep the groups separated.
According to reports, an officer at the scene told KTLA5 that certain crowd members pushed officers and threw objects at them, leading to two arrests.
The school policy protesters chanted slogans like "Stand up, fight back" and "Leave our kids alone."
The group, made up of mostly parents in the Los Angeles Unified School District, hit the streets to advocate for parental notification policies that require schools to notify parents if their children identify as transgender, use different pronouns or try to identify as a gender different to how they were born.
Protesters carried a large banner that read, "Cali parents do not co-parent with Newsom," a jab at California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent battle with local school districts in Temecula and Chino Hills over state-sponsored curriculums.
"This is not about gay or trans people," one speaker said at the rally. "This is about the public school education telling me, you as a parent, what they're going to teach our children. … I'm never given anything before school starts."
Another protester said, "We're all here today not because we have anything against the gay and lesbian community or families. On the contrary, I feel that everyone should be free to live their lives as they wish … but that's not what we're seeing. We're seeing an agenda shoved down our throats that goes against our God-given parents' values, morals and traditions."
Proponents of keeping students' gender identity private argue it protects them from backlash from unaccepting families.
Earlier this month, State Attorney General Rob Bonta said he would investigate whether the Chino Valley Unified School District, roughly 30 miles southeast of L.A., had infringed upon students' civil rights by implementing a parental notification policy.
The Murrieta Valley School Board in Riverside County followed suit and received criticism from Bonta, who branded the mandate as a "a forced outing policy."
But parents in several California school districts have been pushing back against the state's school agenda, which often champions diversity studies and curricula that involve gender identity. Last week, Newsom unveiled a new "family agenda" that promotes "educational freedom" by eliminating "political censorship" in classrooms.
On Monday, several hundred people protested at the state capitol against several controversial bills, one of which would allow children as young as 12 to self-admit themselves into residential mental health programs if signed into law. Critics call it the "state-sanctioned kidnapping" bill.