Parent ‘Appalled’ By Foes of LGBTQ Ed

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Tony Chen, parent to two Marengo Elementary students, said he is “appalled” at views of a handful of other parents who are pushing against LGBTQ education at the school. Photos by Skye Hannah

The school board Tuesday night heard comments from a Marengo Elementary parent rejecting the view of a handful of fellow parents who are pushing against state-mandated LGBTQ instruction. The board also heard preliminary construction plans for improvements at all three elementary schools.

During public comment, Tony Chen, parent to two Marengo students, referenced statements made by fellow parent Linda Liu against LGBTQ gender-identity education at the November 2019 meeting. Liu had agreed with the school’s books showing families with two mothers or two fathers, but rejected those telling the stories of transgender children. She had stated controversial statistics from conservative think tanks that protest adoption by gay couples and promote widely discredited conversion therapy for LGBTQ children. 

While Chen did not outright name Liu at the meeting, he said he strongly disagreed with the statements she made to the board and was concerned that her leadership in cultural heritage events would lead more parents to feel her perspective was justified.

“I am appalled by the continued misguided attacks on the district’s state-mandated sex- education curriculum by members from the ethnic group to which I and my children belong,” Chen told the board. “A few of these parents have had the audacity to cite hate groups as data and they seem to suffer from severe confirmation bias leading them to values that are contrary to the state’s mission statements. … She doesn’t represent all of us and she doesn’t represent our social values.”

In November, Liu said she had concerns for her children “being exposed to sexual orientation/gender-identity content at the younger age” and that “it has absolutely nothing to do with hating gay or any group of people.”

She also said the programs were probably designed to offer hope to children “who may feel different, have flaws or are unloved” and to “affirm children’s own LGBT identity as something positive and something that makes up a core of who they are as children to make them feel better” but that was “not the case.”

Chen also spoke against Liu’s statement to the board in November that she had “both gay and lesbian friends” and respected them as “fellow humans,” so she was confused as to why her thoughts were “interpreted and transformed into gay-hating content.”

“I think that’s a ludicrous statement and false logic,” said Chen. “That’s like saying, ‘I have black friends and therefore I’m not racist.’ ”

Board Member Zahir Robb (center) discusses issues alongside Board Member Suzie Abajian (left) and Superintendent Geoff Yantz at the Board of Education meeting.

For the meeting’s discussion item, the board heard plans for the Measure SP-funded elementary-school site construction. Representatives from American Modular Systems (AMS) showed the board presentations of “Gen7 Schools” and other modular construction options that are being considered for installation at Marengo Elementary, Monterey Hills Elementary and Arroyo Vista Elementary.

Gen 7 classrooms are permanent modular school buildings and classrooms that can be built, installed and ready for students in around 90 days. The buildings also promote and utilize “green school standards” that are high-performance and low-maintenance including energy efficiency, high indoor air quality, abundant natural light, sensitive acoustics and responsible non-toxic materials.

According to Superintendent Geoff Yantz, the board has given direction for the district to engage with AMS and begin the planning process for site location. There will be a total of 13 classrooms and three arts labs built across the three schools. Currently, the architect, AMS and the district are working to analyze the school sites to ensure that heavy equipment can be brought in to install the buildings.

While the middle school’s old gymnasium rehabilitation and the South Pasadena High STEM building are more based on “brick and mortar traditional construction” and built on-site, Yantz said the AMS buildings are preconstructed using similar materials and metal frames and then installed with a different delivery system.

“They’re real buildings, but instead of building them on location they’re building them somewhere else,” Yantz told the Review.

Once the site is prepared and electrical systems set, the buildings will then be brought in with trucks and cranes. Yantz noted that the slopes around Monterey Hills may pose challenges, but he was confident that AMS would find a solution.

To learn more American Modular Systems and to view a video of completed school projects and the construction process, visit americanmodular.com.