By: Shuxuan Zhong
SACRAMENTO, CA––Megan Allen and Monique Hokman Natomas, candidates for the Unified School Board in Northern California, are skeptical of LGBT policies and Pride Month–– the annual celebration of LGBT history in California schools.
On Wednesday, October 12, 2022, Megan Allen said on the public candidate forum that all-gender toilets can lead to sexual assault. In a subsequent interview with The Sacramento Bee, she criticizes California’s curriculum for including age-appropriate information about LGBT families. Hokman also criticized the teaching materials at a public meeting last year. LGBT advocates in Sacramento noticed Allen’s action, and they believe this shows prejudice against trans people.
Allen thinks it is inappropriate to teach children about members of the LGBT community too early. Thus, when Allen was asked if kindergarten classroom materials should include an introduction on members of the LGBT community, she said: “That’s a tough one.” She said she would want to ask a psychologist: “Is this harmful? Is it not harmful?”
She further asked, “Do we need to mention it?” Annamarie Smith of the Stonewall Democrats of Greater Sacramento disagrees with Allen by saying: “’Let’s wait for them to bring it [conversations about the LGBT community] up?’ ‘ That’s what you would do if you were ashamed of us. And we do not applaud any curricular approach based on shame.’”
Allen and Hokman are part of the Republican political party, which has tightened its grip on school boards in recent years. Recently, the ACLU has spoken out about the conservative rules implemented in schools, calling them attacks on trans and gay youth.
Examples of these rules include opposing transgender athletes and the portrayal of LGBT people in classroom curriculum; implementing anti-transgender laws (transgender children are banned from using restrooms that adhere to their gender identities); and Florida’s introduction of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits introducing the terms of “transgender” and “Gay” to children under fourth grade.
California does not currently have a law that discriminates against transgender and gay youth in schools. Allen’s and Hokman’s views on LGBT groups are strongly opposed by Smith, who states: “Curriculum guidelines in the state of California clearly encourage teaching that is age-appropriate on LGBT matters. The simple acknowledgment of the presence of LGBT students in every classroom — or kids with LGBT parents — is a minor, moderate gesture of decency and inclusion.”
Allen and Hokman have split opinions on whether to support merging gender-neutral restrooms. Allen claims “If we’re talking about ‘all bathrooms are gender-neutral,’ I disagree with that. There have been cases where girls have gone into the bathroom, and they’ve been raped. So, just keeping it real. Now, if you want to have a gender-neutral bathroom that’s different from the other two, OK.”
The Stonewall Democrats of Greater Sacramento see Allen’s views as biased and ignorant. Democrats advocate for transgender youth, stating that they are often bullied and socially isolated from peers.
Evan Minton, a former legislative assistant, says he regularly gets calls from Sacramento-area parents whose children are being bullied for being transgender. “All kids deserve to feel welcome, included, and supported in our schools,” Minton says. Allen claims she is not against LGBT people, and she just wants kids to be adequately protected. She said “I’m not homophobic — I’m not. Ugh. My neighbors across the street from me (are) a guy couple. I talk to them. We’re friendly. I’m not homophobic.”