Open Letter to Fresno Unified School District President Brooke Ashjian

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Dear Mr. Ashjian,

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), as the leading voice of LGBTQ Armenian-Americans, is greatly disturbed by your recent irresponsible and offensive public comments equating LGBTQ activists to Ottoman Turks.

As the president of the Fresno Unified School District, it is your responsibility to ensure all children in your district are treated equally with respect and dignity. This is the goal of LGBTQ-inclusive comprehensive sex education being part of our public-school education system. This only fosters more understanding among future generations of American children and combats acts of bullying against LGBTQ youth throughout our country.

As Armenians, we also take offense with your outlandish comparison of LGBTQ activists to Ottoman Turks for various reasons. Firstly, not all Ottoman Turks were perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide and should not be vilified and singled out as a group. Secondly, the fact that you are equating LGBTQ activists to a group of people you accuse of committing acts of genocide is grossly misleading.

LGBTQ activism exists because of the need to ensure social equality for LGBTQ people, and should never be likened to crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide. LGBTQ activism will remain strong and vigilant as long as individuals such as yourself who are denying our rights and engaging in hostile and discriminatory behavior exist.

Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our great country, but should never be used to marginalize, discriminate or exclude anyone.

We are demanding an immediate public apology and believe only through dialogue will you be able to understand the social inequalities that LGBTQ people face on a daily basis.

It is your responsibility to safeguard the rights of all children in your school district. We remain alarmed and concerned for all the children in the Fresno Unified School District who find themselves even more vulnerable today after your comments.

Advocacy for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is the responsibility of every Armenian-American and individuals and groups committed to advancing human rights. We welcome efforts undertaken to achieve this in a more constructive and progressive way, without divisive comparisons to LGBTQ activism.

Respectfully,

Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society

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