CHINO VALLEY (CBSLA) – A Chino Valley school district meeting on sex education and parental rights spurred a massive turnout and sparked controversy over one board member’s comments.
About 700 people reportedly turned out for the Sept. 6 meeting of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education for the hearing on state laws that expand sex education and mandate accommodations for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
Attendance at such meetings reportedly averages around 70 people.
Most of those who spoke showed up in support of a proposal that would require district officials to notify parents when the so-called “comprehensive sexual education” curriculum – which some parents say includes sexually explicit content – is going to be taught on Chino Valley campuses.
After hearing from several parents who voiced their concerns over the curriculum, board member Sylvia Orozco read verbatim from board policy and the state Education Code to assure parents that they must give written consent in order for their children to participate.
According to the state code, the curriculum must “affirmatively recognize different sexual orientations and be inclusive of same-sex relationships in discussions and examples” and “teach about gender, gender expression, gender identity, and the harm of negative gender stereotypes”.
The code also requires instruction and materials for grades as young as kindergarten to “be inclusive of LGBTQ students”.
But it was a comment made by board member Andrew Cruz that proved even more controversial for others in the room.
Speaking for about five minutes in response to parents’ concerns, Cruz said: “Common sense tells us, discernment tells us the direction of our country. We have to get parents rights, even though there’s policies that tell us not to. Forget that.
You know, Hitler, it wasn’t Hitler that was bad, it was the people that follow the laws and the agenda, and it went further and further out of control.
It wasn’t clear which “policies” on parental rights Cruz was referring to.
“Local [government] is so important that we take charge for our own community and for our own kids,” he concluded, as some in the audience applauded.
He later told CBS2’s Michele Gile he apologized for the comment.
“I realize that with governance comes tremendous responsiblity, and I apologize for what I said,” Cruz said in a written statement. “The pain I caused to those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis and to anyone that was offended by my poorly communicated comparison, I do not support and never support Nazis.”
School district officials did not respond to requests for comment, but pointed to the district’s policy prohibiting discrimination of any kind.
In 2015, Cruz faced calls for his resignation over a rant during a school board meeting that touched on a variety of topics, including vaccinations, single parents and marriage equality.