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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, June 13, 2024

A brief timeline of the Davis Phoenix Coalition and Yolo County Moms for Liberty

The two organizations have been at the forefront of transgender issues in Davis and Yolo County

 

By ANTHONY W. ZAMMIKIEL — city@theaggie.org

 

Content warning: This article contains discussions of transphobia.

 

While Davis public institutions have experienced multiple bomb threats since August, some of which contained “anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric,” two Yolo County-based activist organizations have been at odds over the rights of transgender and LGBTQIA+ youth long before the threats: Yolo County Moms for Liberty and the Davis Phoenix Coalition (DPC).

Anoosh Jorjorian, the director of Yolo Rainbow Families, believes that every child has the right to feel safe in Yolo County, including trans and LGBTQIA+ youth.

“Being queer or trans is not a choice,” Jorjorian said in a comment made via email. “We are who we are, and no amount of withholding information, care or representation from children will change that. We refuse to go back into closets, and we refuse to return to discriminatory practices that put young members of our community at risk. All children, no matter who they are, have a right to feel supported, seen and safe in our schools. We will ensure that Davis and Yolo County remain a place where everyone can belong.”

Yolo Rainbow Families is a project of the DPC. The DPC was founded in response to a 2013 hate crime committed against “Mikey” Partida because of Partida’s sexual orientation. Partida’s mother, Gloria Partida, along with other Davis residents, then founded the DPC to combat discrimination in the local community. 

“The world sometimes fears diversity, and hate crimes sometimes happen in the places you least expect,” the DPC website states. “In 2013, “Mikey” Partida was beaten in Davis because of his sexual orientation. His mother and other concerned Davisites formed the Davis Phoenix Coalition, so that no one would have to suffer what Mikey did ever again.”

The DPC has hosted several events in Davis all with the goal of combating hate and eliminating intolerance

Yolo County Moms for Liberty is a branch of the national Moms for Liberty organization. Moms for Liberty was founded in 2021 with the goal of “unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of governments,” according to their website and has worked to combat COVID protocols in schools and restrict the rights of trans youth. The Yolo County branch of the group has been active at school board meetings and community protests and has hosted many forums at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Library since early this year.  

In a comment made via email, Beth Bourne, chair of Yolo County Moms for Liberty, discussed why she joined the group and that she believes the Davis school system has forced trans “beliefs” on kids.

“I am a lifelong Democrat and consider myself a liberal,” Bourne said. “After my family was impacted, I became aware that the Davis school system and other entities were promoting a set of beliefs I do not agree with and believe are indeed very harmful to the young people exposed to them. I am not alone in this belief, and I am not alone among left-leaning lifelong Democrats in this belief. I wanted to do something about it because I have always believed that it is important to speak up when something is not right, and people are being harmed.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group that tracks extremism in the nation, identified Moms for Liberty as an “anti-government extremist” group in an annual report. 

“Moms for Liberty is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement,” the SPLC website states. “The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated books bans.”

Jorjorian compared the organization to the Proud Boys and said that, in contrast, the DPC is a local grassroots movement. 

“Moms for Liberty is a national organization funded by dark money that partners with extremist anti-government groups like the Proud Boys,” Jorjorian said. “These facts are all documented. The Davis Phoenix Coalition was founded by a Davis resident right here in our community, and we work at the grassroots with Davis and Yolo residents every single day.”

Bourne believes that the work of Yolo County Moms for Liberty, in part, is to host public meetings where people can discuss different points of views.

“I thought an effective means of communication would be to hold open public meetings which anyone could attend and respectfully listen to and question the point of view that was being left out of the conversation in Davis schools and in Davis generally,” Bourne said via email.

Jorjorian said that it isn’t transphobic to ask good-faith questions about the process of transitioning for kids. The DPC offers an “office hours” YouTube series to help answer frequently asked questions about trans identity. However, Jorjorian believes that it is transphobic to intentionally spread misinformation to take away the rights of trans people. 

“DPC will continue to respond as we have: we will show up to demonstrate that Moms for Liberty’s campaign of disinformation is discriminatory and aims to divide this community against itself — and it’s not working,” Jorjorian said. “We will also continue to educate the community about LGBTQ+ identity and other marginalized communities, to provide services to marginalized communities to support them and uplift them, and to hold events that bring the community together for equity and justice.”

 

Written By: Anthony W. Zammikiel  — city@theaggie.org