Fresno Unified releases statement on tolerance after board president’s LGBT comments

Fresno Unified school board president Brooke Ashjian at a meeting in 2016.
Fresno Unified school board president Brooke Ashjian at a meeting in 2016.

In a news release Monday, Fresno Unified affirmed its commitment to “tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness” after school board president Brooke Ashjian made controversial comments regarding LGBT-inclusive sex education.

Fresno Unified’s interim superintendent Bob Nelson pointed to a board policy that promotes equity, and to the district’s Safe Place resolution passed earlier this year, which vows to protect undocumented students in light of fears about Immigration and Customs Enforcement in schools.

“Fresno Unified firmly believes that students and staff perform best in an environment where tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness are practiced and valued,” Nelson said in the news release. “Fresno Unified will continue to provide our students age appropriate sex education in accordance with the Healthy Youth Act and our board policies while honoring parental waivers.”

The district’s statement comes after Ashjian voiced concerns about the California Healthy Youth Act – a state law implemented last year that mandates comprehensive sex education, including lessons on abortion and LGBT relationships.

While Ashjian said he supports the district upholding the law, he told The Bee, “you have kids who are extremely moldable at this stage, and if you start telling them that LGBT is OK and that it’s a way of life, well maybe you just swayed the kid to go that way.”

Ashjian also said “It’s so important for parents to teach these Judeo-Christian philosophies.”

The school board meets for the first time since summer break for a regular meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 at the district headquarters.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays