CARLSBAD, Calif. — Comments made by an assistant principal at Carlsbad High School going against the district’s efforts to be more diverse and inclusive are catching criticism.
“I feel like he just kind of showed who he was and that he’s really not for all students,” said Jennifer Hemberger, a Carlsbad Unified parent.
Parents, students and educators in support of the LGBTQ+ community responded to the comments by coming together outside district headquarters Monday, holding a rally for love.
Carlsbad High School Assistant Principal Ethan Williams is being criticized for what he said at The Mission Church last Friday night, where he helped host a gathering to prepare for the district’s upcoming discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Audio from that gathering was shared with FOX 5 and in it a pastor and Williams can be heard speaking for about one hour.
“It’s not because we are bigoted, it’s not because we are afraid of trans people, it’s not because of any of that. We love them and we see the harmful impacts that this is having on our kids. I see it every day,” Williams said.
Williams can be heard encouraging members of the church to attend any of the district’s three “listening and learning sessions” on Tuesday evening to ask for these two things:
“We want full transparency in terms of curriculum and parental rights and we want no sexual identity or gender ideology, curriculum, groups, or celebrations on public school campuses because we love kids and we love families.”
The Mission Church released a statement Tuesday in response to the incident.
“This person should not be in education in the sense of public school. I think that we are entitled to our opinions absolutely, but there are laws that protect students,” said Carlsbad Unified parent Nicki Rudden.
Katrina Waidelich started the Gender Sexuality Alliance, or “GSA” group at Carlsbad High School more than 20 years ago, and is now an advisor of the group.
“If you want to have a Christian club, a chess club, they can have a GSA club. That is their legal right and Ed code for California also says students have a right to learn about diverse identities, diverse perspectives,” Waidelich said.
Sarah Hunter also advises the GSA group at another district high school.
“We are obviously completely in support of people, holding their beliefs, religious, or otherwise. I think for us in the community what was most jarring was that this was shared from an individual from the standpoint of administrator in one of our schools, which immediately makes our students feel unsafe,” said Hunter.
Carlsbad Unified Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Churchill issued a statement on the district website Monday morning that said in part he wholeheartedly disagreed with and condemned the comments made.
Another group, the Carlsbad Education Alliance, also issued a statement in support of Williams saying he was expressing his freedom of speech and religion.
FOX 5 reached out to Williams, but did not hear back.