I have been disgusted by Fresno Unified School District President Brooke Ashjian’s rhetoric suggesting that those challenging his reckless and ill-informed comments about LGBTQ people were akin to Ottoman Turks and the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to visit memorials connected to the Holocaust and its genocide of 6 million Jews. Gay people were also directly targeted. It was a stirring reminder of the devastating consequences of systematic hate directed toward any group of people based on race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.
We have a moral obligation to be sure such state-sanctioned hate does not happen on our watch. Ashjian’s suggestion that those who would dare to criticize him are like “the thought police” is outrageous and dangerous.
I have seen the consequences of a loved one who faced backlash and deep depression when he realized in middle school that he was gay. It is in his honor – and for all the current LGBTQ students in Fresno Unified who are feeling only more isolated and unsupported today because their district’s top elected official has made clear he thinks their sexual orientation is a problem – that I must speak out.
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Andy Levine, Fresno