Hundreds of upset Michigan parents attending a Dearborn School Board meeting on Monday about LGBTQ+ books erupted into boos and chanted, “Vote them out.” The protesters, who primarily included Muslim leaders and community activists, attended the meeting to voice their opposition to sexually explicit books in the district’s school libraries.
Parents grew further agitated when the board decided to address issues unrelated to the books first. In addition, parents said the board members had a condescending attitude when discussing their concerns.
The first hour of Monday’s board meeting was reasonably calm as protesters listened to board member Adel Mozip who admitted that some age-inappropriate books in the libraries had likely “fallen through the cracks” but claimed parents had taken their frustrations too far.
He commented that librarians in the district had been “attacked and labeled as sexual predators” by community members who were upset about the contents of the books.
“Our librarians and educators have been attacked by some members of the public and labeled as sexual predators and groomers – this is insulting and disrespectful and liable,” Mozip said. “This is a serious accusation and undermines our educators and librarians.”
Some crowd members responded with applause, presumably those with the American Federation of Teachers union who showed up in support of the board members. However, at the conclusion of Mozip’s speech, a larger group of upset parents booed the board member.
Board President Roxanne McDonald announced that the speakers would be subjected to a time limit and would not be allowed to share their unused time with other speakers, as in previous meetings.
“No one will be allowed to exceed the three-minute time rule,” said McDonald. “Each person has three minutes to convey their thoughts, and there will be no sharing of minutes. Although we have allowed this in the past, it is truly unfair, and we will no longer allow anyone to speak more than their allotted three minutes.”
McDonald explained that it was within her authority as the board president to set time restrictions, to which a frustrated parent interjected and accused the board president of “bending the rules again.”
The crowd responded to the parent’s comments by exploding into cheers, but the board members quickly interrupted the boisterous audience.
McDonald hit her gavel and shouted over the cheers, “I have the floor.” She scolded the angry parents and told them they were not allowed to boo but that they could clap.
“We understand that people have differing opinions,” McDonald told the parents. “We will conduct ourselves as adults. We will not boo, we will not jeer. You can clap if you’d like, and you’ll listen to the speaker.”
Wadeea Yassir Alzabah, a concerned parent, spoke with Detroit News about his opposition to the books. During the meeting, he held up a sign that read, “If democracy matters, we’re the majority.”
“They are proponents of democracy, but only if it supports liberal values,” Alzabah said. “The moment it goes against liberal values, they are authoritarian and they want to impose their own values on people.”
According to the Detroit News, the board meeting was canceled after the vocal protesters could not be calmed down. A man in the crowd announced that the gathering violated the building’s fire code, and the meeting was rescheduled for Thursday at a larger venue.