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The Monarch Times

Pride Wins Despite Protest

On June 14, 2023, the Hayward Board of Education voted 4-1 to reaffirm LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools.  This vote was in response to concerns over Clerk Joe Ramos’ alleged homophobic and inflammatory comments made at school board meetings and on social media sites.

Several of the board members used their public comment time to reprimand Ramos. “I’m using my comments to appeal to the Board to consider how to handle the recent misconduct of one of our trustees. Clerk Ramos has violated our shared governance agreements and our district policies,” stated Dr. April Oquenda, Vice President of the school board. She claimed that, at the last two meetings, Ramos  “deliberately spread misinformation,” “used inflammatory homophobic language,” and “continues to violate [their] shared values and commitments.” 

HUSD’s Board implemented inclusive non-discriminatory materials to create a safe and comprehensive educational environment for all students, including LGBTQ+ students. These materials provoked a backlash among community members who perceive LGBTQ+ education as inappropriate and confusing for their children. 

Throughout the US, the expansion of LGBTQ+ rights in recent years has proboked resistence from anti-LGBTQ+ groups. Some states have passed laws banning or restricting LGBTQ+ education and inclusion in schools. Conservatie social media campaigns and politicians have characterized LGBTQ+ individuals as sexual abusers.

In contrast, California and HUSD have long supported LGBTQ+ education, history, and community events. Hayward hosted one of the country’s first Pride prom events in 1995 and continues to host it to this day.

During the meeting, he  affirmed his opposition to LGBTQ+ education. “We love you, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to agree with you,” said Ramos. He said, quoting the Bible, “…for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” Additionally, Ramos accused teachers of indoctrinating students: “Our kids are being groomed.”   

Ramos received support from individuals opposing the resolution after the Board of Education criticized his statements. At the June 28   board meeting, several people agreed with Ramos. Members of the community who supported Ramos claimed that LGBTQ+ education should not be discussed in  classroom and that talking about these issues harms the students in HUSD. 

One individual arrived in drag and mocked the resolution by introducing themselves as “the world’s greatest lesbian” and referring to the LGBTQ+ community as “a cult.” Another individual arrived dressed in a wig, dress, and jeans. “I love you, Joe Ramos!” they exclaimed. They demanded “straight-only classrooms’’ and claimed, “more needs to be done.” These individuals have allegedly presented in the same manner at other cities’ school board meetings and it was not clear if these individuals were members of the Hayward community or not.

Educators who spoke generally had a positive opinion of LGBTQ+ educational measures. Many spoke on the importance of the resolution and were opposed to Ramos’s position. “Pride is vital,” said Mt. Eden teacher Carrie King. “I am saddened by the recent events in my Hayward. Born and raised in Hayward. Born in a home where you couldn’t help but have tolerance and embrace diversity. Language, religion, race. This has been a city that has modeled not just tolerance, but empathy and understanding between people,” said Mercedes Faraj, the president of the Hayward Education Teacher Association.  

King provided context as to why she thought the Board of Education refrained from punishing Ramos more harshly: “There were people on the board who were still like, I don’t think that’s a good idea to sanction him. Not that they approve of his comments, but it turns him into a martyr. It would give him a bigger platform,” she clarified.

Despite Ramos’ comments, King is optimistic about the future of LGBTQ+ rights in Hayward: “I think his incendiary comments brought a community together in Hayward that had been kind of disjointed,” she said. “Homophobia and transphobia exist here in Hayward, too, and we’re gonna stand up against it,” King stated. Faraj believes the events at the board meeting have wide implications. “Public education goes beyond curriculum and textbooks. It is the foundation through which we create democracy and tolerance,” said Faraj.

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Elisandra Hampton, Copy Editor, Formatting Editor
My name is Elisandra Hampton and I am the Copy Editor and Formatting Editor of The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. I joined The Monarch Times last year and I am dedicated to writing quality articles. I was born in Hayward, raised in Hayward, and plan to die in Hayward. My hobbies include drawing, reading, and spending hours on Instagram Reels. I hope I can continue creating informative content this year.  
Myldret Vazquez, Business Manager
Hey everyone! My name is Myldret Vazquez-Bejar, I have been writing for The Monarch Times since the 2022-23 school year after my friend informed me that there was a Journalism Club. I am currently the Business and Marketing Manager. Ever since, I’ve grown very close with the TMT team where I find a sense of comfort, belonging and community. I love drawing, going hiking, tea and music.  
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