Special to the Vanguard
The Davis Phoenix Coalition was founded 10 years ago after a brutal anti-gay hate crime in the city of Davis. We are dedicated to supporting and advocating for all marginalized communities in Davis, especially the LGBTQ+ community.
We first became aware of a campaign against the rights of trans students in the Davis school district at a DJUSD Board of Education meeting in December 2022. Since then, a handful of members of the Yolo County Moms for Liberty chapter have continuously attacked the LGBTQ+ community at every level: in Davis and Woodland schools, at the Yolo County Library, and at the Davis City Council. They have held events to censor books and promote disinformation about trans children. They have checked out LGBTQ+ books from the library and refused to return them to effectively remove them from circulation. Most disturbingly, public comments made at local government meetings to condemn these discriminatory actions have appeared in far-right social media with inflammatory rhetoric. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Moms of Liberty’s political allies include right-wing extremists such as anti-government militias, white nationalists, and election deniers.
Supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, including our director of Rainbow Families, attended the most recent Moms for Liberty event at the Davis public library to challenge the disinformation and anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice that have been the hallmark of these “forums.” Some of these supporters experienced threatening comments made to them personally. In this atmosphere, the library staff shut the meeting down.
In light of how the event was portrayed by conservative national media such as Tucker Carlson’s show and on social media, we are not surprised that threats to the library and to staff followed. The SPLC has reported an increase in hateful speech in recent years, along with a corresponding rise in hate crimes. These conflicts over the rights of marginalized communities are no longer issues to be settled locally and peacefully, but are subject to national attention—and sometimes violent response.
The LGBTQ+ community, which includes school-aged children, feels increasingly unsafe in this atmosphere of unchecked and relentless hate speech. The campaigns to spread lies and misinformation are leading to direct and indirect acts of discrimination against them. The Davis Phoenix Coalition has led the pushback to combat hate in our community, but these struggles take away from our regular work of providing services to marginalized communities. Although these attacks on freedom of expression currently center on the LGBTQ+ community, Moms for Liberty is spearheading campaigns nationally to attack all forms of diversity and inclusion in public institutions. For this reason, we call on the wider Davis and Yolo County communities to stand up for equality and the safety of all—not just the few.
The Davis Phoenix Coalition condemns the violent threats against the Davis Public Library, as well as all discriminatory actions that seek to strip rights from the LGBTQ+ community. We condemn the escalating extremist rhetoric that contributes to these threats. We labor to promote greater understanding of identity differences and equality for all as promised in the founding documents of our nation, and we decry attempts to undermine these efforts and promote division and hatred. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the safety of all in Davis and Yolo County, including the librarians, teachers and school staff, and children who have undergone a week of fear and disruption due to these bomb threats.