June 8, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IN RESPONSE TO THE RECENT EVENTS IN LOS ANGELES AREA SCHOOLS
In light of the dangerous rise of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks locally and nationwide, GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society, Armenian-American Action Network, and Southern California Armenian Democrats call attention to the collective safety of LGBTQ+ Armenians, the need for active allyship, and the dangers of alarmist and racist narratives about the Armenian immigrant population.
Locally, in the course of one week, the Los Angeles area communities saw two violent protests against LGBTQ+ inclusion in school curricula - in North Hollywood and Glendale. This included attendance by agitators who were not part of the local or allied communities. We maintain that the use of physical violence, especially against marginalized peoples, immigrant and LBGTQ+ people, is unacceptable, it hurts our community and its causes, and must be unequivocally condemned by all, including our elected officials, leaders, institutions, and human rights and community organizations.
Within the current divisive climate of hatred displayed toward LGBTQ+ lives, LGBTQ+ Armenians exist at an especially vulnerable and endangered intersection. We are presently living in an especially dangerous time for all LGBTQ+ communities across the nation. On June 6, the same day as the violent protests in Glendale California, the Human Rights Campaign released a report warning of a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. Given the national and local dangers faced by LGBTQ+ communities, we express extreme concern about the safety of LGBTQ+ Armenians as they are facing multiple layers of vulnerability within this current political climate. As organizations doing the ongoing work in our community, we stand with marginalized Armenians, especially LGBTQ+ Armenian youth. We are all contributing members of the larger Armenian community, which is diverse, multifaceted, and should not be reduced to a monolith. Our community must be welcoming and safe.
We seek to correct the record on the events that transpired on June 6th, at the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) Board meeting: our collective of LGBTQ+ Armenian and allied local Armenian immigrant organizations were present at the GUSD Board meeting and the vast majority of all public comments consisted of Armenians in support of inclusive curriculum, including Armenian parents and allies. The monolithic perception of Armenians vs. LGBTQ+ people is a false, inaccurate account of the events at the GUSD Board meeting and furthers systems of oppression that erase LGBTQ+ Armenian people and voices, and enables discrimination. These inaccuracies put LGBTQ+ Armenians and the larger Armenian community directly in harm’s way.
Armenians understand what it means to be targeted for our identities from our painful history. We also understand what it means for our voices to be erased from school curriculum and our stories to not appear on the news. Like all other people, we are entitled to dignity and respect, especially those of us who are marginalized Armenians. People’s lives are not a matter of debate, and their civil rights must be protected as all other people in the United States.
Many, including the media, have painted Armenians with broad strokes and continue to bury the most important story: Armenian LGBTQ+ people and Armenian immigrants had a strong, inspiring presence at the GUSD Board meeting, spoke in favor of inclusive education and addressed pressing civil rights needs in our city. The overshadowing of these realities because of the actions and use of physical violence by some outside agitators must be corrected and is jeopardizing all Glendale residents’ safety. We must come together against hate and violence.
We are concerned that protesting parents and community members are acting from a place of misinformed fear. At the same time, opportunist social media influencers are using this to propagate racist and orientalist ideas about the entire Armenian community. We refuse this divisive narrative about our community and urge all Armenians and allied communities to stand with marginalized Armenians and to approach each other with respect, dignity, and love.
We also urge the broader LGBTQ+ community to resist type-casting Armenians, as this harms not only the LGBTQ+ Armenian population, but also the broader Armenian immigrant population. It leaves LGBTQ+ Armenians vulnerable without support in either of their marginalized identities. Queerness exists in all communities and cultures around the world. Queerness is not a product of Western society or a new phenomenon. Despite many systemic barriers, queer people do and will continue to lead and exist in our communities. As immigrant-serving organizations, we will continue to advocate for the civil rights of all of our people in this country, especially those most marginalized.
The erasure of LGBTQ+ voices from school curriculum is homophobic and transphobic, and encourages bullying and discrimination. We are in full support of our public schools' acknowledgement of diverse families and acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ identities. LGBTQ+ students must see themselves positively reflected in the curriculum, instruction and programming of schools and must feel safe amongst their peers. We ask our community members and allies to push for safer and welcoming schools where all students are seen and included.
As the leading voice for advancing equality for LGBTQ+ Armenians worldwide since 1998, GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society continues to provide a safe haven and critical resources for LGBTQ+ Armenians in diasporan communities.
Today, the Armenian LGBTQ+ community needs the following support:
Elevate the voices of LGBTQ+ Armenians - invite us to share our stories, and bring critical awareness to the resources that we have and we need.
Be vocal about your intersectional allyship - make your commitment to ensuring the well-being of marginalized communities known. We need vocal advocates organizing for and within our immigrant communities.
Refrain from spreading dangerous generalizations about the Armenian community.
Donate to GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society - support us in building our critical resource base in order to protect and educate our community.
We urge all people who believe in human rights to join in uplifting and supporting marginalized people. As a community already so under attack, we maintain that principled unity, love, and tolerance is what makes us strong. Armenians continue to show the world that systemically minoritized and erased peoples survive and thrive against great odds. Onward toward freedom and justice for all.
GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society (GALAS) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit based in Los Angeles, providing resources and programming for the LGBTQ+ Armenian community and beyond. Since 1998, GALAS has been the leading voice in advancing equality for LGBTQ+ Armenians worldwide.
Armenian-American Action Network (AAAN) is an U.S. advocacy and research organization fighting anti-Armenian racism and Armenophobia in the United States, teaching Armenian-American history, and forwarding civil, immigrant and refugee rights for all communities.
Southern California Armenian Democrats (SCAD) is the first and the largest regional Armenian-American Democratic Club in CA & U.S., working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout California and the U.S.