School board candidates, community leaders host rally to stand up for LGBTQ+ community


Community members hold signs with supporting messages for LGBTQ+ community

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” school board candidate Nicole Chiu-Wang said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

These words kicked off Sunday’s community rally, which took place in King Plaza and lasted from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. Acting in response to school board candidate Ingrid Campos’ statements characterizing the LGBTQ+ community as having a “deviant lifestyle” and denouncing school curriculum on the LGBTQ+ community and the roots of racism in the United States (critical race theory), community members—including students, parents, city council candidates and school board candidates—gathered in front of the Palo Alto City Hall to show solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized and underrepresented groups. Candidates present emphasized that the rally was not meant to be a campaign event.

After Chiu-Wang’s opening remarks, the conversation opened up to the rest of the community. Those present were invited to come to the microphone and share out their name, where they lived and their “family values” (a term chosen deliberately to combat Campos’ characterization of her ideals as “traditional family values”).  School board and city council candidates contributed first, and then other members of the community stepped up to share their insights.

Fremont High School Teacher Emer Martin, an advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance club at the school, spoke about curriculum restrictions, an issue Campos has been vocal on. “We need to stand really firm on this [curriculum issue] because it’s creeping in all over,” she said. “Politicians shouldn’t tell teachers what to teach.”

We need to stand really firm on this [curriculum issue] because it’s creeping in all over. Politicians shouldn’t tell teachers what to teach

— Fremont High School Teacher Emer Martin

Guidance counselor Jane Stern drew on her experience of 30 years to urge action in the community. “Yes, [as guidance counselors], we taught love and respect and caring—but the last part of that is action,” she said.

After community members shared out, the group took a turn around the block, holding up rainbow signs bearing the legend “Hate has no home here,” before dispersing.


Throughout the event, an emphasis was placed on love and solidarity. Those present were told that were someone hostile to arrive, they should respond with chants like “Love is love is love.” Palo Alto High School student Harvey Vostrejs appreciated the emphasis on love and community from potential board and city council members. “They’re doing a really good job; they’re standing up for their community, which is the best thing they can do to show that [hate] won’t be tolerated,” they said. “Fostering a sense of community is the most important thing.”