‘Tin-Pot Tyranny’: California Dem Moves To Purge School Boards of Members Who Dissent From 'Inclusive' Regime

LGBT-themed books at an elementary school in California (Getty Images)
June 22, 2023

A newly overhauled California bill would authorize school boards to boot any member who objects to the state’s strict orders for "inclusive" policies and curricula.

Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D.), the wife of California attorney general Rob Bonta, replaced the previous language of Assembly Bill 1352 on Tuesday to "expressly prohibit" school boards from "taking an action that contradicts any existing law requiring a school district to have inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum," according to the revised text. The legislation had already cleared the Assembly floor and a Senate committee as an unrelated bill about childcare subsidies.

If the bill becomes law, school board members who propose ideas that run counter to California’s diversity mandates could be removed by their colleagues with a two-thirds vote—a prospect that "creates a specter of retribution" against dissenters, according to Lance Christensen, vice president of education policy and government affairs for the California Policy Center.

"We’re at tin-pot tyranny level now where any time a local official does anything that’s completely within their authority—legal and constitutional—the agitators on the left feel like they have to strip their lower offices of their duly elected officials," Christensen said.

Bonta’s measure is the latest move by California Democrats to crack down on resistance to the state's pro-LGBT educational regime. Like other states, California has in recent years seen an upswell of opposition to progressive policies for schools and educators, including a wave of conservatives challenging liberal school board members. But the movement has so far been largely squelched by California's teachers' unions and Democratic leaders.

Just this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) joined a host of Democratic lawmakers in condemning as hateful a protest by Los Angeles parents against school board-sanctioned LGBT Pride activities after a fight broke out between some of the protesters and Antifa counterprotesters. Newsom and Rob Bonta threatened investigations of school districts that remove any potentially inappropriate books that are LGBT-themed or "gender-diverse." And the Education Department launched a probe into a Southern California school district for its rejection of LGBT curriculum for early elementary school students, including books that celebrate San Francisco’s first openly gay lawmaker Harvey Milk.

To advance her new proposal, Bonta used a legislative tool known colloquially in Sacramento as "gut-and-amend," which swaps out already-vetted and approved legislative language for an entirely new policy. This maneuver can allow lawmakers to sidestep the customary hearing process and move controversial measures through the legislature with relatively little scrutiny. A.B. 1352 needs to make it out of the Senate to be sent to Newsom for signature into law.

Bonta's office did not respond to questions about why the assemblywoman flouted standard legislative procedure, who is backing her bill, and why she seeks to suppress dissent by democratically elected local officials.