San Jose leaders condemn anti-LGBTQ group
At a Franklin- McKinley School District board meeting in September, Informed Parents of Silicon Valley members handed out literature about parents having the right to opt out of LGBTQ+ supportive school curriculum. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    San Jose officials are supporting LGBTQ+ communities against discriminatory organizations causing conflict in local schools.

    Councilmembers Pam Foley and Omar Torres have drafted a resolution supporting LGBTQ+ students in reaction to the efforts of Informed Parents of Silicon Valley to ban LGBTQ+ themed books and encourage parents to opt out of LGBTQ+ supportive school curriculum. The resolution will be presented at the Oct. 24 San Jose City Council meeting for a vote.

    Foley said hateful language and misinformation is unacceptable and the city has to take a stand. 

    “The allegations that are portrayed in the distribution (of information) that is going out by these groups is wrong and desperately misrepresents what is happening at our schools,” Foley told San José Spotlight.

    The resolution said Informed Parents of Silicon Valley is trying to prevent schools from carrying books or teaching curriculum about gender identity and LGBTQ+ families, as well as social and emotional health and racial justice. It references an incident on Sept. 1 when members distributed literature at local schools, including Bagby Elementary School in the Cambrian School District. 

    Bagby Elementary School parent Maria Noel Fernandez said she was confronted by Informed Parents of Silicon Valley with inflammatory bookmarks on Sept. 1 while taking her child to school.

    IPSV handed out this bookmark at Bagby Elementary School in the Cambrian School District on Sept 1. Photo courtesy of Maria Noel Fernandez.

    “Informed Parents of Silicon Valley and their partner the Values Advocacy Council (which advocates for Judeo-Christian values in public policy matters), have a history of harassing not just the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color,” she told San José Spotlight, “but our children and parents, through a targeted campaign centered on drumming up hate in our schools, the one place every child and family should feel safe.”

    In a letter to the city council, Informed Parents of Silicon Valley said the resolution breaks the city’s ethics code by “hawking demonstrably dishonest claims about us, by letting partisan zealotry override basic fairness and creating an environment that would curtail citizens’ basic First Amendment rights.” The group also threatened to sue the city. Informed Parents of Silicon Valley said the resolution is not responsible, fair, honest or open and elected officials are peddling misinformation about it.

    “It’s vital to note that no legal findings have ever determined whether any Informed Parents volunteers harassed anybody,” the group said in its letter to councilmembers. “All we want is for parents to be able to exert their rights to opt out of curriculum they find inappropriate for their children—a right enshrined in the California Education Code.”

    Informed Parents of Silicon Valley did not respond to requests for comment.

    Foley said her office was told Informed Parents of Silicon Valley members distributed literature in the San Jose Unified and Franklin-McKinley school districts, which urged parents to pull students out of curriculum meant to increase acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ+ children and families. Group members distributed handouts before the Franklin McKinley School District board meeting on Sept. 26 and attended the meeting to protest the censuring of board member Marc Cooper.

    Foley said Informed Parents of Silicon Valley twists reality. She said isolation and the marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community put students at risk. The group said it is not anti-LGBTQ+ and denied harassing parents at schools on the specific date mentioned in the resolution.

    Foley said she expects the council will take action after ensuring the resolution is on solid legal ground, which she believes it is.

    “The attached resolution reaffirms that the city of San Jose is a welcoming and supportive place for the LGBTQ+ community,” she and Torres said in the resolution, “and makes clear that hate and efforts to marginalize LGBTQ+ people have no place in our city.”

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].

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