School Board meetings across the US have become a new flashpoint in the culture wars that have been dividing the country for at least the last 18 months. There have been 90 incidents in 30 states since school boards have begun returning to in-person meetings. The protests have been related to masking, free speech, teachings about race, library book bans,and most recently transgender rights.

Most recently, at a school board meeting in Chino, California,  State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond was berated and then removed from the meeting by the conservative School board. 

Thrumond was trying to speak against the new parental notification policy of outing transgender youth to their parents. 300 parents and community members on both sides of the question protested during the meeting.

That was not the only protest in California.  At a Glendale School Board meeting 3 people were arrested in June after protesters violently clashed during a meeting where board members had convened to vote on whether or not to recognize June as Pride Month.

Other school districts are having similar problems. The Miami-Dade County School Board lost control of protesters during a discussion about health textbooks and sex education. Right-wing opponents of the textbooks yelled over board members and put a stop to the discussion. Strangely, the only arrest was of a left wing activist named Caleb Freestone who had been sitting quietly in the back. When the police were trying to quiet a right wing protester named Lourdes Galban, she yelled about antifa and pointed at Freestone sitting a few rows away, accusing him of being antifa. The police left her and surrounded Firestone and told him to leave. He quietly refused and was arrested. None of the disruptive protesters, including Galbank, were forced to leave. Freestone maintains his arrest was political. You can watch the 6 hour meeting and decide for yourself. Despite the protests, the textbooks were approved.

Other disruptions of School Board meetings have taken place in New Jersery, Virginia and Texas

ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism site, found that of the 59 people who were arrested or charged at a school board meeting over an 18-month period, the vast majority of cases were dismissed by prosecutors. Most of the cases involved charges of trespassing, resisting an officer or disrupting a public meeting. 

What was most interesting was that ProPublica found that the vast majority of the incidents were in suburban districts, and most of the participants on both sides were white. 

If you are interested in learning more, ProPublica is holding a virtual panel discussion on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 called How Culture Wars Have Derailed School Board Meetings Across the Country

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