LOS ANGELES—The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society has penned an open letter to the president of the Fresno Unified School District, Brooke Ashjian, who last week, during comments at the school board meeting equated the LGBT community to Ottoman Turks who perpetrated the Armenian Genocide.
Below is the GALAS letter to Ashjian.
GALAS, the leading voice of LGBTQ Armenian-Americans, is disturbed by your recent comments equating LGBTQ activists to Ottoman Turks. It is irresponsible and offensive.
As president of the Fresno Unified School District, it is your duty to ensure all children are treated equally with respect and dignity. As part of our public-school system, the goal of Healthy Youth Act is LGBTQ-inclusive sex education to raise awareness among future generations of American children and to combat bullying against LGBTQ youth in our state.
As Armenians, we take offense with your outlandish comparison of LGBTQ activists to Ottoman Turks for various reasons. First, not all Ottoman Turks were perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide and should not be vilified or singled out as a group.
Second, equating peaceful LGBTQ activism to genocide is callously misleading. LGBTQ activism exists because of the need to ensure social equality for LGBTQ individuals, and should never be compared to egregious crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide. Although freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our great country, its purpose is not to marginalize, discriminate or exclude anyone.
Advocacy for recognition of the Armenian Genocide is the responsibility of every Armenian-American and those who are committed to advancing human rights. We welcome efforts to achieve genocide recognition in a more constructive and progressive way, without divisive comparisons to LGBTQ activism.
Mr. Ashjian, we are demanding an immediate public apology. Further, we believe only through dialogue you’ll be able to empathize with the social inequalities LGBTQ individuals face on a daily basis. We remain alarmed and concerned for the children in the Fresno Unified School District who find themselves more vulnerable after your comments. We would like to meet with you directly to discuss LGBTQ inclusiveness in efforts to put this unproductive quarrel to rest. Mr. Ashjian, let’s start the healing process together.
Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society