One afternoon last week in Rockridge, Chabot Elementary School became the unlikely setting for a clash between anti-gay protestors and parents and school personnel. Members of the American Warrior Ministry were objecting to an educational forum to be held that evening by Our Family Coalition, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for gay, lesbian, and transgender families.
The Ministry's leader and a few supporters passed out fliers in front of the school that read, "THE PERVERTS WANT YOUR KIDS! They want to brainwash them in your school into thinking that pervert behavior is normal and should be accepted!" The objectionable flier urged parents to "refuse to have your kids brainwashed into sodomy."
Parents and school personnel were angry that the group was passing out these strongly worded fliers to children at the end of the school day on school property.
Chabot Principal Jonathan Mayer said it was "totally inappropriate" for the group to be passing out fliers to children. "It's negative and false information." Mayer said the group was asked to leave, and when they refused, the police were called. At least four police cars came, but police did not disperse them, as protestors have the right to be on the public sidewalk after school hours (which it was by the time police arrived) as long as they are not causing a disturbance.
As far as Mayer knows, no parents have objected to the forum, which was sponsored by the Oakland Unified School District. "They found no support for their issue," he said of the protestors.
Ministry leader Dr. Donald Grundmann of San Leandro, reached by phone, said he formed his group "to restore America to its Christian principles" and to "confront the evils that are warping the fabric of the nation." He's particularly distraught about any gay and lesbian presence in the schools. "The homosexual community is attacking our schools, our state and nation," he said. "It is evil for children to be sexualized and exposed to a homosexual agenda."
The normally off-limits East Bay has seen three visitations of far-right protestors just in the last few weeks. First, there was right-wing agitator David Horowitz and his Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (October 22-26) on the Berkeley campus. Then came Melanie Morgan, the conservative KSFO talk show host and chair of Move America Forward, who joined her supporters in protesting the Marine Recruiting Center in downtown Berkeley last Wednesday. And now, anti-gay protestors at Chabot Elementary.
Grundmann, who lives and works as a chiropractor in San Leandro, said he spends his free time protesting gay events around the state. By his own admission, his group is small about twenty to thirty people but he says he is affiliated with other ministries throughout the state. His goal? "Victory on the cultural battlefield."
Principal Mayer said the gay-friendly forum was part of the schools' goal of teaching "culture competency ... of being understanding, tolerant of people of different cultures." For Aimee Fisher, program director of the Our Family Coalition, it comes down to a child explaining to their playmates that they have two mommies or daddies. "We serve about 700 families, and they all say schools are where their children first experience homophobia."
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