Connect with us

San Bernardino County

Lake Arrowhead shop owner shot to death over Pride Flag

Detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag hanging outside the store before shooting the owner

Published

on

Lake Arrowhead shop owner Lauri Carleton, was shot to death outside of her business after a dispute over an LGBTQ Pride flag turned deadly. (Screenshot NBC News)

CEDAR GLEN, Calif. – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies responding to a shooting call in the unincorporated Lake Arrowhead area on Friday, August 18, 2023, at around 5:00 p.m. discovered the owner of a clothing boutique suffering from gunshot wounds outside of the store.

The victim, identified as 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton, the owner of the Mag.Pi clothing at 28938 Hook Creek Road, in Cedar Glen was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency medical personnel.    

A spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office said that during the response to the initial scene on Hook Creek Road, deputies received updates from Sheriff’s Dispatch indicating the suspect, who has not been identified, fled on foot, and was seen on Torrey Road, east of Highway 173. 

Deputies located the suspect near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road, armed with a handgun.  When deputies attempted to engage the suspect, he refused to drop his weapon and a use of lethal force encounter occurred and the suspect was pronounced deceased.  No deputies were injured during the incident.

The Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division – Homicide Detail also responded and assumed the investigation.  

Through further investigation, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton.  

According to a source familiar, the suspect who arrived at Carleton’s store erratically removed a pride flag hanging as a decoration outside the shop. Carleton confronted the unidentified man who removed the flag. The male shot her multiple times before fleeing.

Carleton, who is married, also owns the Mag.Pi clothing boutique in Studio City. According to friends she was a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community and beloved in the Cedar Glen area. She is survived by her husband of 28 years and their 9 children.

Entrance to Mag.Pi clothing boutique as a memorial grows with flowers and items left at the spot where Laura Ann Carleton died by grieving members of the Cedar Glen community on Saturday afternoon, August 19, 2023. (Screenshot/Twitter video)

“Everyone deserves to live free of hate and discrimination and practice their constitutional right of freedom of speech. Lauri was a remarkable member of the community and I send my deepest condolences to her family in this time of grief,” San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe said in a statement also labeling the shooting a “senseless act of hate and violence.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Twitter/X said: “This is absolutely horrific. A shop owner has been shot and killed by a man after he criticized the pride flag hanging outside her business. Lauri leaves behind her husband and 9 children. This disgusting hate has no place in CA.”

Mag.Pi clothing boutique in Studio City
(Photo Credit: Mag.Pi/Facebook)

According to the Sheriff’s Department spokesperson the investigation is ongoing, and no further details are being released. 

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide Detail at 909-890-4904. 

Callers wishing to remain anonymous should contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or got to www.wetip.com.  

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

San Bernardino County

San Bernardino judge blocks Chino schools forced outing policy

“Today, the courts confirmed what we knew to be true — this hateful policy poses real safety risks to vulnerable students”

Published

on

Parents protesting the policies of Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education School Board President Sonja Shaw. (Screenshot/YouTube KCAL CBS LA)

SAN BERNANDINO, Calif. – Today was the first hearing in California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s lawsuit against Chino Valley Unified School District challenging gender notification policy after which Superior Court Judge Tom Garza granted the state’s request for a temporary restraining order to halt the policy.

Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, initially adopted in July, requires school staff and administrators to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission and even when officials are aware that a trans or queer student may be harmed emotionally or physically by the disclosure.

Judge Garza’s will immediately halt its enforcement.

“San Bernardino Superior Court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order rightfully upholds the state rights of our LGBTQ+ student community and protects kids from harm by immediately halting the board’s forced outing policy,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While this fight is far from over, today’s ruling takes a significant step towards ensuring the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. As we continue challenging the policy in court, my office will continue providing our unwavering support to ensure every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity.”

In the lawsuit, the state argues that the policy infringes on several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the board’s policy has already placed transgender and gender-nonconforming students in danger of imminent, irreparable harm from the consequences of forced disclosures. These students are currently under threat of being outed to their parents against their will, and many fear that the District’s policy will force them to make a choice: either “walk back” their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to gender identity and gender expression, or face the risk of emotional, physical, and psychological harm.

In the filing the state also points out that the board’s policy thus unlawfully singles out and discriminates against transgender and gender nonbinary students, subjecting them to disparate treatment and harassment, including mental, emotional, and even physical abuse.

In an email to the Blade, the Indianapolis-based Rainbow Youth Project, which had assisted the Attorney General’s staff with collaborative documents and statements from students and families affected by the policy, issued a statement:

“We are proud to collaborate with California Attorney General Rob Bonta in our ongoing efforts to protect the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals in California schools,” stated Lance Preston, Executive Director at Rainbow Youth Project USA. “By assisting his office in securing the restraining order against the Chino Valley Unified School District, we have sent a clear message that forced outing policies have no place in our educational institutions. We will continue to work diligently to ensure that all students feel safe and supported at school and in their communities.”

The lead group that is combatting the policy on the ground in Chino, Our Schools USA, reacted to Garza’s ruling :

“Today, the courts confirmed what we knew to be true — this hateful policy poses real safety risks to vulnerable students. Our Schools USA is proud to have supported our local chapter of parents in standing up to a hateful policy that deprives educational opportunities for students,” spokesperson Kristi Hirst told the Blade.

Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education President Sonja Shaw, has been a leading opponent of LGBTQ+ visibility and rights in the district’s schools. During LGBTQ+ Pride month this past June, she led the board in a 4-1 vote to ban LGBTQ+ pride flags in all district classrooms. After the vote in what was best described as a contentious and heated meeting, Shaw addressed the audience saying: “If a teacher has to fly a flag in the classroom to show a kid this is safe space, that is a teacher problem.” That comment brought immediate angered shouts from those gathered in the room.

The current fight over the ‘Outing policy’ culminated in a 4-1 vote by the board this past July to involuntarily Out trans students to parents or guardians in a new parental notification policy after another contentious and heated school board meeting.

During that meeting Shaw battled and then belittled California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, who personally attended and addressed the board.

Thurmond’s presence created a stir with Shaw, who cut the Superintendent’s mic off after he went past the minute speaking time allotted for the public comments section. 

Addressing the board, Thurmond cautioned the policy may “not only fall outside of the laws that respect privacy and safety for our students, but may put our students at risk because they may not be in homes where they can be safe.”

As Thurmond attempted to finish his remarks, Shaw repeatedly talked over him saying “time.” At this point a number of students and others opposed to the policy began cheering which caused Shaw to reprimand those audience members saying: “Guys, be respectful.”

Then Shaw turned her attention back to the Superintendent.

“I am going to do a point of order, which I learned from a previous board president,” She continued. “Tony Thurman, I appreciate you being here, tremendously. But here’s the problem. We’re here because of people like you.”

“You’re in Sacramento, proposing things that pervert children,” Shaw shouted, as the students continued to cheer Thurmond. She then ordered Chino Police officers to escort the Superintendent from the room.

Prior to filing a lawsuit, Bonta announced opening a civil rights investigation into the legality of the board’s adoption of its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. Prior to opening the investigation, the Attorney General sent a letter in July to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting its forced outing policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities. 

Recently, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement following Anderson Union High School District, and Temecula and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decisions to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policy targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

Chino Valley Unified School District nor Board of Education President Sonja Shaw responded to a request for comment.

 **************************************************************************************

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

A community in pain remembers Laura Ann Carleton

A lifelong ally of the LGBTQ+ community, she proudly flew the instantly recognizable rainbow pride flag- and was killed for it

Published

on

Laurie Carleton (Family photo shared on social media)

CEDAR GLEN, Calif. – The news of the shooting death of a beloved local merchant this past weekend spread at a speed that would match a seasonal California wildfire in this mountain community above Lake Arrowhead.

Now that community and its LGBTQ + community are in mourning and deep pain.

Murdered over a Pride flag, Laurie Ann Carleton, 66, is remembered by her husband of 28 years, nine children, family, friends, and fans worldwide, but most especially by the tightknit community where she owned a clothing boutique called Mag.Pi.

A lifelong ally of the LGBTQ+ community, she proudly flew the instantly recognizable rainbow pride flag in front of her store. 

Vandals in the what locals have said is an increasingly homophobic community near Lake Arrowhead tore down her flag repeatedly. Each time, she put up a bigger one. She expressed fear to close friends that one day these constant vandalizations would escalate to an in-person altercation. 

Then, on August 18th, Carleton’s fears came true when a 27-year-old male tried to vandalize Carleton’s flag yet again. She got into a heated verbal argument with the armed man who hurled homophobic remarks at her. He then pulled out a concealed handgun shooting and murdering her.

Prior to the murder, the suspect, Travis Ikeguchi, posted several homophobic images on social media including a burning pride flag.  

“This disgusting hate has no place in CA,” tweeted California Governor Gavin Newsom, shortly after Carleton’s death. 

The destruction of pride flags has been under review in several states as a hate crime. 

“Let’s be clear,” said representatives for Equality California, “— Lauri Carleton was a victim of the hate-filled calls to action made by politicians and extremists that continue to push false narratives and misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community. Her unwavering commitment to standing for the dignity and respect of LGBTQ+ people is a testament to her kindness and humanity and will always be remembered.

“More than 350 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents occurred from June 2022 to April 2023, accompanied by the introduction of more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced across the country in 2023 alone. This hate does not happen in a vacuum — it is all part of a backlash to the advances made by the LGBTQ+ community. We must continue to stand against this rising tide of hatred.”

Before opening her clothing stores, Carleton studied at the Art Center for School and Design. While there, she built a reputation for being kind-hearted and creative. Eventually, she joined the staff of Kenneth Cole Productions in 1982 and worked for the company for more than 15 years, becoming an executive, according to the company’s website.

Cole posted a statement on social media confirming Carleton had been a friend and a long-time associate of his company. He called her killing “an unnecessary and tragic death.”

The Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ group called Carleton a “remarkable figure”, whose “unwavering support” for the community and “dedication to creating a safe and inclusive space within her shop touched the lives of many.” 

“Today was a very sad day for Lake Arrowhead and for the LGBTQ community. Our friend and supporter Lauri Carleton… was murdered defending her lgbtq+ Pride flags in front of her store in Cedar Glen, California,” the group wrote in a statement. “Lauri did not identify as LGBTQ+ but spent her time helping & advocating for everyone in the community. She will be truly missed.”

Matthew Clevenger, a co-founder of the organization, recalled that “new folks moving into town — new couples, new LGBTQ families — were concerned about moving up here. We hear stories about them driving by her store and seeing the flags and feeling so welcome.

“They immediately felt the acceptance and were no longer afraid to be up here,” Clevenger told KABC 7 and other media outlets. “And Lauri did that for them.”

The suddenness of the heinous crime seemed to leave many family members and friends in disbelief at their loss. A family photo of Carleton has been circulating the internet that embodies her love of nature and effortless style. In it, Carlton wears her long, wavy hair down under a sun hat. She has on turtle shell sunglasses and a denim button-down top under a sand-colored jacket. 

“We are all devastated for her husband Bort,” said film director Paul Feig, a close friend of Carleton’s, “and her family and the LGBTQ+ community, for whom Lauri was such a true ally.” Her alleged murderer was later shot and killed by the San Bernardino police and so no longer poses a threat to the community. But this intolerance has to end. Anyone using hateful language against the LGBTQ+ community has to realize their words matter and that their words can inspire violence against innocent, loving people. Let’s all keep moving forward with tolerance and love. Let’s not let Lauri’s tragic death be in vain.”

Film director Paul Feig, a close friend, shown here with Carleton.
(Photo Credit: Feig/Instagram)

Other friends lamented that they had just seen Carleton alive and well and were making plans to take a trip to the lake together. 

Actress Bridget Everett — of the HBO MAX dramedy “Somebody Somewhere” — also mourned Carleton in a post on Instagram, saying it was not the first encounter Carleton faced over displaying the pride flag.

“In the past, when someone took down her flag or vandalized it, she’d put up another one,” Everett said in her post, which was accompanied by a photo of Carleton. “The last time I saw Lauri was, oddly enough, at Lake Arrowhead Pride both in the parade and then at a party. All that anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has a price. And now, Lauri’s husband Bort, her daughters, friends and community are devastated. And for what?”

The local Mountain Provisions Cooperative wrote a moving tribute on Instagram:

“In loving memory of our dear friend, mom to many, ally, organizer, entrepreneur, founding member and soul of our co-op Lauri Carleton.

Lauri was a pillar in our community, an immovable force in her values for equality, love, and justice. If you knew Lauri you know she loved hard, laughed often, and nurtured and protected those she cared about. She was a force, she loved to crack jokes and wanted to live as joyful of a life as possible. We will continue to stand for the values she so selflessly stood for. Her death will not be in vain 💗

Lauri and her husband Bort were pivotal in organizing our Free Store which provided free food and supplies for 4 months after the blizzard. Lauri put her whole heart into keeping it going as long as we could. Pay an act of kindness forward in her honor. Our community needs as much as love as we can get right now.

Fly your flags in honor of Lauri 🏳️‍🌈 love will prevail. Please respect the privacy and be respectful of family and friends grieving this horrific loss 💔

Sending love to our entire community, especially our queer community. Stay safe friends.”

“I admire her, and I’m so proud of her, and I know she passed standing up for something she believed in,” said Ari Carleton, one of her daughters.

“She was so fearless and any negative reaction she just powered through,” Ari added. “The flags have been torn down before by different individuals, and she always went and ordered an even larger flag in response.”

During his Monday press briefing, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus spoke about the national attention this case has received:

“This particular victim has had an impact really across the United States,” said the Sheriff. “We’ve been reached out by the vice president of the United States. Our victim certainly had a major impact on the community and people that she’s come across with during her lifetime.”

The family has asked for time to hold a vigil for Carleton. The vigil will be announced when the family deems it appropriate to do so and will be open to the public. 

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

Suspect in murder of store owner over Pride flag identified

The suspect was identified as 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi, who had shot and killed Carleton after she confronted him in front of her store

Published

on

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus held a press conference Monday to brief the public on the updates to the investigation into the murder of beloved Cedar Glen shop owner Laura Ann Carleton last Friday evening. (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7 News)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus held a press conference Monday to brief the public on the updates to the investigation into the murder of beloved Cedar Glen shop owner Laura Ann Carleton last Friday evening.

Travis Ikeguchi

The suspect was identified as local resident, 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi, who had shot and killed Carleton after she confronted him in front of her store over his removal of an LGBTQ+ Pride Flag. The two exchanged words and after yelling homophobic epithets he shot her then fled on foot.

He was followed by several witnesses who reported his location to sheriff’s dispatchers.

Sheriff Dicus told reporters that deputies from the Twin Peaks substation confronted Ikeguchi near Torrey Road and Rause Rancho Road east of Highway 173, about a mile from the homicide scene at the Mag.Pi clothing boutique at 28938 Hook Creek Road in Cedar Glen.

As deputies attempted to engage the suspect, he refused to drop his weapon and opened fire on them, striking multiple squad cars. The Sheriff said the deputies returned fire striking Ikeguchi who died at the scene. Dicus noted that none of his personnel were hurt or injured.

The Sheriff noted that the handgun found on Ikeguchi was believed to be the same weapon used to murder Carleton adding that semiautomatic pistol was not registered to him, and he did not have a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Dicus also said during Monday’s media briefing that Ikeguchi’s family had reported him missing the day previous to the shooting.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s investigators said that Ikeguchi frequently posted hate-filled content on social media. News media outlets including the Blade were able to locate X (formerly known as Twitter) and GAB accounts matching his name.

His social media posts were filled with Christian Nationalist hate-filled themes and retweets often targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Both accounts were still active Monday evening Pacific Time.

Sheriff Dicus said that the investigation is actively ongoing and that the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office will investigate the shooting of Ikeguchi, as is standard practice with all lethal force encounters involving law enforcement agencies.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the Homicide Detail at 909-890-4904. 

Callers wishing to remain anonymous should contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or got to www.wetip.com. 

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

NBC News: Extremism on California school boards highlighted

“This is not an organic, bottom-up movement. It’s top-down. They create chaos & they intimidate people at these school board meetings”

Published

on

Examining the national conservative network behind heated school board meetings. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

CHINO, Calif. (NBC News) – Over summer break, angry people concerned about the “gay agenda” and gender ideology have packed school board meetings, including many in California. NBC’s Maura Barrett digs into how national groups are elevating school board candidates and policies, while local groups of parents attempt to push back.

Barrett spoke with Our Schools USA founder, Kristi Hirst, who has three children in the Chino Valley Unified School District system and is a former teacher.

“There’s a national effort to capitalize on fear and use that against parents,” Hirst told NBC News. “This is not an organic, bottom-up movement. It’s top-down. They travel regionally, create chaos and they intimidate people at these school board meetings. I think that’s also a tactic that is purposeful to get community members deterred from showing up.”  

WATCH:

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

Bonta launches civil rights investigation into Chino Valley Unified

The policy requires schools to inform parents when a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate

Published

on

California Attorney General Rob Bonta. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General/Facebook)

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Friday that his office is opening a civil rights investigation into potential legal violations by the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), which adopted a policy that forces schools to “out” students whose gender identities may be changing.

In an urgent letter sent to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education has month, Bonta expressed serious concern over the then proposed Parental Notification policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.

After a contentious board meeting two weeks ago after forcing the removal by local police officers of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, who personally attended and addressed the board, at the direction of school board President Sonja Shaw, the board voted 4-1 to involuntarily Out trans students to parents or guardians in a new parental notification policy.

The “Parental Notification Policy” requires schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even if such disclosure is against the student’s wishes or could expose a student to parental abuse or increase their risk of self-harm or suicide.

The policy also requires notification if a student accesses facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their sex on official records.

“Students should never fear going to school for simply being who they are,” said Bonta. “Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity. Today’s announcement stresses our commitment to challenging school policies that target and seek to discriminate against California’s most vulnerable communities. California will not stand for violations of our students’ civil rights.”

A group of Chino Valley parents who have been battling for the LGBTQ+ students in the district issued a statement regarding the AG’s announcement:

“We hope the civil rights investigation launched today by Attorney General Rob Bonta serves as a sign to other districts that these invasive and discriminatory practices will not stand. This was never about parental rights. If it was, the CVUSD Board would not have actively inserted its employees into the private affairs and parenting practices of CVUSD parents.,” said Kristi Hirst, a spokesperson and COO for Our Schools USA.  

“All this policy has accomplished is making students afraid to return to school. It does not create an environment of trust, one that should exist between parents, students, teachers, and staff. It has merely been a major distraction from the larger issues facing the school district, which actually need immediate attention,” she added.

Requests for comment from the Chino Valley Unified School District or its board went unanswered.

UPDATE: KABC 7 reports:

The school district board president said state officials are “overstepping their boundaries.”

“This is a ploy to try to scare all the other boards across California from adopting the policy,” Sonjia Shaw said in a statement to The Associated Press. “I won’t back down and will stand in the gap to protect our kids from big government bullies.”

A spokesperson for the school district said that Bonta did not notify them about the investigation. The board has argued that parents have the right to know.

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

State schools chief Thurmond kicked out of acrimonious meeting

“You’re in Sacramento, proposing things that pervert children” Chino Valley Unified School District board president tells state official

Published

on

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond addressing the Chino Valley Unified School District school board, July 20, 2023. (Photo by Kristi Hirst for the LA Blade)

CHINO VALLEY, Calif. – The four hour meeting of the Chino Valley Unified School District school board at Don Lugo High School Thursday resulted in a 4-1 vote to involuntarily Out trans students to parents or guardians in a new parental notification policy.

The policy mandates that faculty and staff notify parents within three days, in writing, if their child identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming, asks to be called by a name that does not match school records or their birth certificate.

Additionally it would also require schools to “notify parents if their child seeks to change their name or pronouns or asks for access to gender-based sports, bathrooms or changing rooms that do not match their assigned gender at birth.”

Among those opposed to the implementation of the policy is the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, who personally attended and addressed the board.

Thurmond’s presence created a stir with school board President Sonja Shaw, who cut the Superintendent’s mic off after he went past the minute speaking time allotted for the public comments section. 

Addressing the board, Thurmond cautioned the policy may “not only fall outside of the laws that respect privacy and safety for our students, but may put our students at risk because they may not be in homes where they can be safe.”

His words echoed a warning issued by California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a letter sent to Chino Valley Unified School’s Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board. Bonta expressed serious concern over the proposed Parental Notification policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.

“By allowing for the disclosure of a student’s gender identity without their consent, Chino Valley Unified School District’s suggested Parental Notification policy would strip them of their freedom, violate their autonomy, and potentially put them in a harmful situation,” Bonta wrote. “Our schools should be protecting the rights of all students, especially those who are most vulnerable, and should be safeguarding students’ rights to fully participate in all educational and extracurricular opportunities.”

As Thurmond attempted to finish his remarks, Shaw repeatedly talked over him saying “time.” At this point a number of students and others opposed to the policy began cheering which caused Shaw to reprimand those audience members saying: “Guys, be respectful.”

Then Shaw turned her attention back to the Superintendent.

“I am going to do a point of order, which I learned from a previous board president,” She continued. “Tony Thurman, I appreciate you being here, tremendously. But here’s the problem. We’re here because of people like you.”

“You’re in Sacramento, proposing things that pervert children,” Shaw shouted, as the students continued to cheer Thurmond.

“You had a chance to come and talk to me, Tony. By all means you had a chance to come talk to me. Why was it so important for you to walk with my opponent? You are the very reason why we’re in this.”

Thurmond, who had left the podium at this point, pivoted and returned to answer her accusatory remarks.

“May I have, as a point of order, as the board –” he began before she interrupted him.

“This is not your meeting,” she snapped. “You may have a seat because if I did that to you in Sacramento, you would not accept it,” she angrily shouted.

“Please sit,” she ordered.

“Can I get a point of order?” Thurmond said repeating his request.

“You’re not gonna blackmail us!” said Shaw, shouting again. “You already sent us a blackmailing letter on previous things, you will not bully us here in Chino. Please seat,” Shaw shouted, as Thurmond continued to ask to be recognized.

It was at this point she declared a short recess, but Thurmond, who had not yet left the podium found himself surrounded by Chino police officers and later he was then escorted from the room.

Politico’s California Bureau Chief Christopher Cadelago tweeted:

Addressing the situation after he was removed on his Twitter page, Thurmond noted:

“Tonight I went to a school board meeting to stand up for LGBTQ+ students who invited me to join them as they spoke out against a radical new policy that threatens their safety. When done speaking, the board president verbally attacked me an instructed the police to remove me.

“I don’t mind being thrown out of a board meeting by extremists. I can take the heat — it’s part of the job. What I can’t accept is the mistreatment of vulnerable students whose privacy is being taken away.

I ask — if I am forcibly removed from a public school board meeting as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, how are everyday parents and students in Chino Valley Unified supposed to have their voices heard?

“Let me be clear: I will always stand with California students and will use every power of my office to protect them from politicians who seek to divide our communities instead of keeping our kids safe.”

The local newspaper, the Daily Bulletin reported:

“If you pass this policy, you are telling trans kids they don’t matter and you are placing a burden on teachers,” recent Chino Hills High School graduate Daniel Mora told trustees.

“Students don’t want your policies, we just want our education back,” Chino Hills High School graduate Esther Kim told the board.

Chino Teachers Association President Brenda Walker said the policy would be “divisive and unnecessary.”

There were some in support the Bulletin noted:

“It is morally repugnant that they think parents shouldn’t be involved with their children,” Chino Valley school parent Nick Wilson said.

“We are here today because our kids are in danger,” parent Oscar Avila said. “Our kids are in danger from groomers.”

After the meeting, Thurmond told reporters: “The actions of this board are deeply troubling—and I’m not talking about being thrown out of a public meeting—I am talking about the blatant disregard for student privacy and safety. Forced outing policies harm everyone—students, parents and guardians, families, and school staff. What CVUSD has done may be in violation of state law. We will be working closely with the State Attorney General’s office to verify and enforce California law.” 

“Choosing when to come out and to whom is a deeply personal decision that every LGBTQ+ young person has the right to make for themselves. This policy is taking away a student’s ability to seek comfort, safety, and security in our schools and from trusted adults and peers. As educators and education leaders, we should always be putting students first and doing all we can so they can learn and thrive.” 

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from its Executive Director Tony Hoang:

“Equality California is appalled and alarmed by the level of blatant homophobia and transphobia leveled against LGBTQ+ youth by the Chino Valley Unified School Board yesterday evening. With LGBTQ+ youth around the country under attack, the school board put their most vulnerable students in harm’s way with their dangerous vote to forcibly out trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth without their consent. The policy they passed last night is dangerous and in direct opposition to recommendations made by the California Department of Education. 

At yesterday’s meeting, the rhetoric and behavior of many of the board members, especially Board President Sonja Shaw, was dangerous and unfit for an elected official. Shaw and fellow members referred to LGBTQ+ students as being mentally ill, a harmful and wildly false statement to make in front of students attending the meeting. They also forcibly removed meeting attendees who did not agree with their extremist agenda, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Chino Valley USD students, and Equality California staff members. Shame on them.”

School board President Sonja Shaw is seen in the upper far right corner in pink speaking with one of the more than a dozen anti-LGBTQ+ activists who attended from other jurisdictions.
(Screenshot/Twitter video)

Also present in the audience were persons who live outside the Chino Unified District, who are not parents within the schools system according to sources who spoke to the Blade. Many were wearing T-Shirts that have been seen at other anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Southern California including recent protests at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, two school board meetings of the Glendale Unified School Board and then at the Temecula Valley Unified School District School Board meetings.

Kristi Hirst, an executive with ‘Our Schools USA’ a parent group that is proactively opposing anti-LGBTQ+ groups plus other extremists and a parent of children attending the district’s schools told the Blade in an email Friday:

“Last night’s Chino Valley Unified School District Board meeting was a disgrace to the Chino Valley and a disservice to every single student who attends its schools. 

The meeting was not filled with local concerned parents or community members supporting the “outing policy” – it was filled with agitators and members of hate groups who travel around Southern California harassing community members at Board meetings. Of the actual parents, community members, students, and staff who attended the meeting and spoke, the majority were not in support of this harmful policy. They were not listened to, and, in fact, they were kicked out of the meeting. The Board President even kicked a student out of the meeting.  

School Board leadership have openly invited the Proud Boys, Gays Against Groomers, Lexit, and other extremist and hate groups to school board meetings. These are known and dangerous people, and they are being invited onto a school campus. These are same agitators who incited violence in North Hollywood and Glendale.  

This meeting is a reflection of the extreme agenda being pushed by national groups like Moms for Liberty. Their endorsed candidate is now the Board President, and they are capitalizing on fear and victimizing our most vulnerable students. This will continue to happen throughout California and the country. This is not about parental rights or parental voice – if it was, the actual parents who attended and whose kids go to Chino Valley schools would not have been ignored.” 

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

AG Rob Bonta tells Chino school district protect student privacy

Bonta urges Chino Valley Unified School District to safeguard students amid proposed parental notification policy impacting Gender Identity

Published

on

California Attorney General Rob Bonta addressing rising hate in a speech last month in Central California. (Photo Credit: Office of the California Attorney General)

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a statement urging the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) to prioritize protecting student privacy.

In an urgent letter sent to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education, Attorney General Bonta expressed serious concern over the proposed Parental Notification policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.

The Attorney General’s office is committed to protecting the rights and well-being of students in California schools.

“The protection of every student’s privacy and safety is of utmost importance, and that includes protecting their right to choose when, how, and with whom they share their gender identity. That is a personal decision for them, and them alone,” wrote Bonta.

“By allowing for the disclosure of a student’s gender identity without their consent, Chino Valley Unified School District’s suggested Parental Notification policy would strip them of their freedom, violate their autonomy, and potentially put them in a harmful situation. Our schools should be protecting the rights of all students, especially those who are most vulnerable, and should be safeguarding students’ rights to fully participate in all educational and extracurricular opportunities. I strongly encourage CVUSD to prioritize the rights and privacy of all their students.” 

The proposed policy is up for consideration tonight at the CVUSD Board of Education meeting. If approved, it would require schools to inform parents, without exception, if a student wants to use a name or pronoun different from what’s on their birth certificate or official records.

It would also require notification if a student wants to use facilities or participate in programs that don’t match their gender on official records or if a student wants to change any information in their school records.

In the letter, Attorney General Bonta calls on CVUSD to fulfill its weighty responsibility as educators to create an inclusive and safe environment for all students. Additionally, the letter underlines that decisions about gender identity are deeply personal and should be handled with sensitivity, allowing students to make their own choices regarding when and how to disclose their identities to their parents.

Furthermore, this proposed mandate demonstrates a reckless disregard for the real-world dangers some children may face at home. Any child harmed following such a mandatory parental notification could lead to potential liability for the school district. 

A copy of the letter can be found (here).

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

Chino Valley schools ban Pride flag & may out trans students

The ban the display of Pride flags in classrooms sends a chilling message to LGBTQ+ students, families, and staff that they are unwelcome

Published

on

(Screenshot/YouTube FOX 11 LA)

CHINO, Calif. – After a contentious heated meeting last week during which the majority of speakers during public comments demanded the ouster or resignation of board President Sonja Shaw, the Chino Valley Unified school board voted 4-1 to ban LGBTQ pride flags in all district classrooms.

The action by the board updates district policy which allows the U.S. flag, California state flag, as well as other country, state and military flags. But the new policy would forbid teachers from showing solidarity or support for the LGBTQ+ students by disallowing the Pride Flag. 

Shaw addressed the audience saying: “If a teacher has to fly a flag in the classroom to show a kid this is safe space, that is a teacher problem.” That comment brought immediate angered shouts from those gathered in the room.

CVUSD Meeting of the Board of Education – June 15th, 2023:

The meeting was held at Don Lugo High School in Chino and drew a crowd of over 300 that filled the auditorium. Also at issue was a proposal submitted by board president Shaw that would require the teaching and guidance staff to tell parents if their students are transgender.

Shaw had defended her anti-trans proposal on her social media accounts saying it was a matter of parental rights:

The board did not take action on the proposal submitted by board president Shaw that would require the teaching and guidance staff to tell parents if their students are transgender instead delaying further discussion and action until July.

Late last week, supporters of the anti-trans proposal for the school district held a press conference, which included Riverside Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli, one of the co-sponsors of Assembly Bill 1314, which would have required schools across the state to notify parents when a child identifies as transgender, died for the 2023 Assembly legislative year after the chair of the Assembly’s education committee opted not to schedule it for a hearing.

Shaw, since her election last Fall and elevation to the board presidency in December, has garnered considerable opposition for her public alliance with policies promoted by anti-LGBTQ Southern Poverty Law Center listed hate and extremist group Moms for Liberty. This in addition to her so-called publicly stated conservative leanings.

Riverside Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli (Screenshot Fox 11)

The Daily Bulletin noted that according to a report prepared for the meeting, the parent notification rule supports the district’s efforts to be “mutually supportive and respectful partners in the education of their children.”

The notification policy is in the interest of students’ mental health and safety, according to the report, and requires parents to be notified if a student asks to be addressed by another name, different pronouns, or wants access to sex-segregated programs, bathrooms or changing facilities.

Shaw’s proposal mirror’s Assemblymember Bill Essayli’s failed bill.

Brenda Walker, president of Associated Chino Teachers, said the policies carry unknown consequences, noting that the district did not contact teachers about them until this week. She said it was unknown what disciplinary steps would be taken by the district if teachers violated the proposed rules The Daily Bulletin reported.

“Teachers are very supportive of students, families, other educators, and employees and advocate for the safety and well-being of everyone in our school community,” Walker said, adding that the notification policy violates state law. As such, she said, the policy would put teachers in the difficult position of choosing between following the district’s rules or state law.

“If you are truly here for students, we encourage you to vote no” on the parent notification and flag policy, Walker told the board.

“LGBTQ+ students deserve to feel safe and protected in their schools. However, the recent actions of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education are anything but supportive or affirming. The majority-conservative board voted 4-1 Thursday evening to ban the display of Pride flags in classrooms, sending a chilling message to LGBTQ+ students, families, and staff that they are unwelcome,” Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang said in a statement:

“Public comment on Thursday’s vote was also staggeringly one-sided, with parents and educators who attended the meeting to speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ policies largely silenced. It is our hope that the Chino Valley Board of Education — and all governmental bodies — allow comments from community members and advocates representing all sides of an issue, and that they follow the letter of the law established by the Ralph M. Brown Act. 

In addition to the shameful vote to ban Pride Flags, the board is also considering adopting a policy that would forcibly out transgender students to their parents. While in an ideal world, all trans students would have supportive homes, we sadly know this is not the case. This policy would compromise the safety of these already vulnerable students. It also flies in the face of guidance from the California Department of Education to not reveal a student’s gender identity to their parents without that student’s express permission. 

It is not lost on us that this policy initiative is spearheaded in part by Asm. Bill Essayli, who attempted to advance a bill this legislative session, AB 1314, that would have made forcibly outing transgender students a state law. Through the efforts of Equality California and our partners, we were able to quash this bill before any action was taken.

Equality California will continue to advocate for the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students through outreach and education efforts, as well as working to pass legislation like AB 5, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act by Asm. Rick Chavez Zbur, which would implement LGBTQ+ cultural competency training for all educators to better support and affirm their LGBTQ+ students.”

Related:

Chino Valley school board to discuss gender identity:

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

City of Redlands, California won’t be flying a Pride Flag during June

If the policy had been approved, it would have been the third year the pride flag would have flown at City Hall in June

Published

on

Redlands City Hall (Photo Credit: City of Redlands, California/Facebook)

REDLANDS, Calif. – A protracted and contentious battle to alter the city’s existing flag policy has left this San Bernardino municipality as one of only a few jurisdictions in the state that will not being displaying the LGBTQ+ Pride flag during Pride month this June.

Earlier this month, the city council in a 3-2 vote, rejected a change to allow the display of any flag other than the national flag, state, local and the POW/MIA flags. Consideration of a resolution to amend the City’s Flag Display Policy, which was continued from the March 21 City Council meeting at which the council deadlocked on the matter ending in a 2-2 tie, was fairly acrimonious with public comments harshly critiquing and change to allow the Pride flag being flown.

Many of the comments included a variation on the sentiment of “Sexual preference has no business in the displays of city and state.” Other were a bit more harsh stating opposition such comments such as “No flag that represents sex with minors, or any other political flag should be flown along side the US and State flag.”

Others attacked Redlands City Council Member Denise Davis, the city’s first openly LGBTQ council member. In addition to the opposition, there were more than 20 members of the public who spoke in favor of the raising of the rainbow flag for the month of June and also advocated calls for greater inclusivity of the LGBTQIA community in the city.

The city had in previous years flown the Pride flag during June. But after Redlands Mayor Eddie Tejeda voted against revising the policy, the audience loudly chanted “coward.”

“It is my opinion that if we adopt changes to our flag policy, that we do so at our own risk … In this case, it will demonstrate favor of one group over others,” Tejeda said. “For these reasons, I will change my vote and not support changing our flag policy.”

In an interview with KTLA, the city’s queer councilmember, Davis, told the station she believes the decision sends the wrong message.

 “I think that those visual cues of inclusion are really important to a community that has been historically marginalized,” Davis said.

If the policy had been approved, it would have been the third year the pride flag would have flown at City Hall in June, said Traci Lowenthal.

“To fly the pride flag this year feels especially important,” Lowenthal said. “At least 417 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. That is an all-time high. Whether banning healthcare or discussions of LGBTQ identity in classrooms, our LGBTQ community members receive one clear message over and over again: ‘You are not wanted.’ “

Continue Reading

San Bernardino County

CalTrans worker beaten, tased by Montclair police has died

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation into his arrest and resulting death

Published

on

Montclair Hospital Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

MONTCLAIR, Calif. – 42-year-old Antonio Ibanez was on life support after Montclair police allegedly used batons striking him multiple times and then tased him on March 5. Ibanez, who was listed in critical condition after the beating, has died at Montclair Hospital Medical Center according to an attorney hired by Ibanez’s family.

According to a Montclair Police Department spokesperson, officers had responded to a 911 call at a mobile home park on the 4100 block of Mission Boulevard. Arriving officers were confronted by Ibanez who was allegedly threatening “the female victim caller who lived at the same location armed with an object.”

KTLA 5 reported that Ibanez’s family said that the CalTrans worker has struggled with drug addiction. He was renting a room and it was the homeowner who called the police with the intention of getting him some help after he didn’t open the door, they say.

“She called for assistance. There was no one in danger or domestic disturbance, simply a call for assistance,” said Christian Contreras, the attorney representing Ibanez’s family. “That begs the question as to, ‘Are police equipped to help people?’ They’re not; they’re equipped to brutalize people and use force.” 

“You know he’s fighting for his life,” Rosendo Rojo Jr., Tony Ibanez’s brother told KTLA. “Eight officers using a baton, a taser – it wasn’t a disturbance. It wasn’t a violent call.”

Ibanez family members and Christian Contreras, their attorney, held a news conference on March 13, 2023, to call for justice and the release of police body camera footage.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation into Ibanez’s arrest and resulting death.

Continue Reading

Popular