Ten Things You Should Know About Ashjian

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The Fresno Unified School District board meeting was packed with supporters and opponents of board president, Brooke Ashjian. Photo by Howard Watkins.

By Kaylia Metcalfe

Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published in Perhaps We Learn https:// perhapswelearn.blogspot.com/, and this edited version is republished with permission.

  1. Brooke Ashjian is president of the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) Board.
  2. He has a history of being anti- LGBT including accusing a local LGBT organization of pimping him out. Yeah, it makes no sense to anyone else either. From Equality California: “Ashjian is also accused of having posted anonymously online that Gay Fresno, a local LGBTQ organization, is run by ‘pimps in disguise’ and that ‘they put me into prostitution.’ Another comment says the group is run by liars, thieves and ‘butt draggers.’”
  3. There is a California law that went into effect in 2016 that requires that middle and high schools teach unbiased and medically accurate sex education, including lessons on birth control and abortion.
  4. Conservatives are not happy about this law, and in a recent interview Ashijan gave the following quote: “My biggest fear in teaching this—which we’re going to do it because it’s the law—but you have kids who are extremely moldable at this stage, and if you start telling them that LGBT is OK and that it’s a way of life, well maybe you just swayed the kid to go that way,” Ashjian said. “It’s so important for parents to teach these Judeo- Christian philosophies.”
  5. Not shockingly, Ashjian is a Trump supporter who also is on record for saying that the psychological ramifications of abortion are on par if not worse than the fallout from being raped. “There’s certainly a lot of psychological effects that come from abortion that people need to be aware of,” Ashjian said. “Your life is a lot easier by not doing it. Look at these poor girls who get raped and have to have an abortion. If that’s the way they’ve got to go, God bless them. But think of all the repercussions that come later in life, mental and psychological.”
  6. So naturally, the LGBT community came together to call for his resignation, including Equality California and the Human Rights Campaign. “Ill-informed and erroneous statements like those recently made by Brooke Ashjian are precisely the reason that Equality California sponsored the California Healthy Students Act,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.

“Research shows that two things happen when students receive accurate information about LGBTQ people as part of health and other classes. First, LGBTQ students, who often face rejection at home and a broad lack of acceptance elsewhere, learn to value and understand themselves when they see other LGBTQ people as part of their lessons. And second, their non-LGBTQ peers become more accepting and supportive.

With LGBTQ teens facing suicide rates up to four times higher than their non-LGBTQ peers, reducing ignorance and the hostility that comes with it is vital. It’s a lesson that Ashjian himself would do well to learn. As president of the school board of California’s fourth-largest school district, he has a responsibility to serve all students, and uphold the laws that are designed to protect them.” There is also a petition to remove him: www.change.org/p/teresa-plascencia-remove-brooke-ashjian-from-being-president-of-fresno-unified-school-district.

FUSD school board president, Brooke Ashjian at the school board meeting on August 23, 2017. Photo by Peter Maiden.
  1. His reply was one word: “No.”
  2. On Aug. 23, community members attended a five-hour meeting where dozens of LGBT supporters and community members pleaded with the other board trustees to remove Ashjian. No decision was made.
  3. In a long strange statement, Ashjian [who is Mormon] compared his plight of being called out to the suffering of the Armenian people by the Ottoman empire. “These individuals who are personally attacking me and my religious foundation while demanding my resignation, I ask why? Is it simply because I exercised my constitutional rights of freedom of speech while I was doing my duty, or is it something more nefarious, like simply desiring to muzzle anyone who dares not fall in line with the narrative of the day.

“It is sad, they like the Ottomans are trying to be the thought police. They are trying to make people of faith second-class citizens, as they seek to silence our voices in the public square. Just like what my grandparents and millions of other grandparents had to endure at the hands of the Ottomans before escaping to America.”

  1. Another lovely thing about Ashjian: Apparently, he doesn’t see the local paper, the Fresno Bee, as a legitimate news organization—which is straight out of the the Trump playbook. “I don’t acknowledge the Fresno Bee as a legitimate news source.”

The work is far from over. Rest assured, we won’t stop calling for equality and safety for all FUSD students.

 

CONTACT THE FRESNO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD

E-mail:

www.fresnounified.org/sites/ board/Pages/members.aspx

Postal mail:

[Trustee name], 2309 Tulare St., Fresno, CA 93721

Phone:

559-457-3727

Complaint form:

www.fresnounified.org/sites/ board/cs/forms/Personnel- Complaint-Form-English.pdf

In person:

Attend the next school board meeting at 2309 Tulare St. (three minutes or less allowed per speaker). For more information, visit www.fresnounified.org/ sites/board/Pages/agendas. aspx.

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Kaylia Metcalfe is a freelance editor, writer and activist. Her work has been featured on the Gay Central Valley blog, Community Link, BLADE CA and the Community Alliance newspaper. Contact her at kayliametcalfe@gmail.com or the usual social media platforms.