Glendale school board meeting erupts into arguments over gender identity, policy

The Glendale Unified School District held its regular school board meeting Tuesday night, and hundreds of parents, community members and students were in attendance. During the public comment portion, the topics discussed were related to gender identity and the district's curriculum and policies.

The topics ranged from transgender students in locker rooms to a personal account from a special needs student who claims inappropriate sexual topics were discussed by a teacher during a sexual education lesson. The student spoke about the incident at the last school board meeting, and her speech went viral.

Responding to that student's claims, Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, Ed.D. said that the district takes "concerns from ours students, employees and families seriously and thoroughly [investigates] any allegations of misconduct," and that the time the district has "not found evidence to support of the allegations made…"

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Ekchian's statement continued as follows:

We are committed to being completely transparent with families about our policies and curriculum being taught in our schools. If you ever have concerns about your student’s experience in GUSD schools, please contact your school administrator or reach out to our district office directly.

I want to clarify some misinformation currently being shared online:

Locker rooms - Male teachers and coaches do not ever enter the girls' locker room or vice versa. No student is ever forced to disrobe or change clothes in front of any adult at school. In addition, private changing facilities are available for any student who wishes to use them for any reason.

Sex education - In GUSD, instruction related to students’ maturation and sexual health education is taught in grades 5, 7 and 9. Instruction in grade 5 focuses on body changes that occur during puberty. Curriculum in grades 7 and 9 is focused on sex education and HIV prevention and follows the standards outlined in the California Healthy Youth Act. Parents may view the materials prior to instruction and have an opportunity to opt their child out of this curriculum. More information is available on the GUSD website at

Punishment for incorrect use of pronouns - California law and GUSD Nondiscrimination Policy state that every individual on our campuses has a right to be referred to by their preferred pronouns. Should there be an instance where a student or employee uses an individual’s improper pronoun, we would have a conversation to address the issue. The nature of the conversation would take into account the specific situation and any underlying circumstances, including a student’s IEP or English Learner status.  

Our administrators, teachers, and staff continue to work together with our families to ensure our schools are safe spaces where every child can learn and thrive. Thank you for trusting us with your child’s education and please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly if you have questions or concerns.

District officials said they are following California law and also released the following to FOX 11:

We make it a priority to ensure that every one of our students, employees, and family members feels welcomed, valued, safe, supported, and included in our Glendale Unified community.  

Our district follows all California nondiscrimination laws and Education Code policies for serving transgender and gender nonconforming students to ensure the safety and success of every child on our campuses.

California law is very clear that only parents or guardians have the right to change a minor student’s name or gender in their official record. GUSD’s policies follow the law and require the signature of a parent or guardian before an official school record is changed.

Since 2013, state law and the interpretation of state law by the California Department of Education have mandated that students have a right to ask to be referred to by a name or pronoun that might be different from that on their official record.  

California law requires that, "students shall have access to the restroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school." No student is ever forced to disrobe or change clothes in front of any adult at school.

All Glendale Unified locker rooms are equipped with private changing facilities for any student who wishes to use them for any reason.