Arab-Americans form unlikely alliance in bid to ban explicit LGBTQ books from school libraries

An unexpected alliance has formed between conservative parents and Arab Americans in Dearborn, Michigan.

The groups have come together to stand up to public school boards providing their children with ‘explicit’ LGBTQ reading material.

Reports indicate that a school board meeting in Dearborn, Michigan was disrupted last week when hundreds of protesters denouncing books featuring LGBTQ content flooded into the Dearborn Public Schools boardroom.

Some of the titles concerned parents have to object to include Push, The Lovely Bones, This Book Is Gay, and Flamer — all titles that confront rape, explicit sex, and sexuality.

Parents, many Arab-Americans, attended a school board meeting in Dearborn, Michigan on Thursday to voice their dismay at the sexually explicit and LGBTQ reading materials their children have access to in the school system’s public libraries.

Hass Cash, a Dearborn resident and community activist, talks to community members at the Dearborn Board of Education meeting in Dearborn on Monday, October 10, 2022. The meeting became so unmanageable that it was moved to a room later in the week it can accommodate more people

Community members had signs expressing their disapproval of the kind of texts that local children can view in their school’s libraries

Several of the books that have asked parents to be banned from the public school system in Dearborn, Michigan. Each of them depicts rape, homosexuality and sex and local parents have objected to their children’s access to the lyrics

Republican nominee for Attorney General of Michigan, Matthew Deperno, attended the meeting and commented on the surprising united front between conservatives and Arabs.

‘I think you will notice that these are people’ with deeply held religious beliefs. We have to stand up for the First Amendment and people’s religious beliefs and I think you’re probably seeing a shift in the Republican Party,” he said.

Local partner Fox 2 said the presence of the two groups was “a nod to the unexpected alliance of sorts between conservatives and many in the Arab-American community, as their interests overlap on this issue.”

The majority, according to the paper, of those who attended the Thursday night school board meeting were Arab.

One person who attended the meeting expressed support for the way the GOP has addressed the issue by strengthening parental rights.

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“What the Republican Party has done is they stood firm on this issue and stood firm with the parents. We are waiting for the Democrat counterparts to assist us in this matter,” he said.

Another participant chided progressive Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, calling her “the only person behind this… Don’t vote for Rashida Tlaib!”

The public reportedly cheered

the criticism.

Some counter-protesters who support a robust LGBTQ-focused curriculum also spoke at the rally. Some of them worked within the school system

Dylan Wegela, a teacher at a Dearborn high school, holds the Progress Pride flag during a Dearborn Public Schools board meeting at Stout Middle School in Dearborn on Thursday, October 13, 2022

Arab Americans, of whom there is a sizable population in Dearborn, Michigan, made up the majority of the protesters. Some conservative parents also joined to form an unlikely political union

Hundreds of protesters came to the meeting, so Monday’s original location had to be changed when the board met again on Thursday to accommodate the numbers.

Some counter-protesters said they themselves were LGBTQ youth in public schools who would have liked to know what resources (including literature) are currently available to students when they were young

David Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University, said, “Politics can make strange bedfellows, and this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this. I could definitely see this issue and this alliance propelling the Arab-American turnout, simply because that community has more energy now.”

He added that he believes the union will be shot alive given the conservative faction’s general support for former President Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.

In an earlier replay of the school board meeting held earlier this week, also in Dearborn, a separate group of protesters carried placards that read: ‘Keep your porn books to yourself’, ‘If democracy matters, we are the majority’. and “Protect the kids.”

School board members were yelled at and booed when attendees were told their public comments would be limited to three minutes.

According to the Washington PostLocal Muslim leaders had encouraged people to attend the rally to oppose the presence of LGBTQ books in public schools.

“Some of those books promote pornography. Some of them promote homosexuality. We don’t need this,” prominent Muslim leader Iman Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini told the Detroit Free Press.

Ahead of the school board meeting, the district released a new policy that allows parents to block their school-age children from checking certain items from the library or preventing them from using the district’s library completely.

Jacky

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