Assistant Principal Williams: Unfit to Serve


On Friday, May 19, the Mission Church hosted an open and publicized Stand for Truth Info Meeting to “equip God’s people,” focusing on Carlsbad Unified School District’s proposed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Strategic Plan.

The keynote speaker, CHS Assistant Principal Ethan Williams, instructed his audience on how to oppose the DEIB Plan during the Listening and Learning sessions at three Carlsbad elementary schools on May 23. He called for “no sexual identity or gender ideology curriculum, groups, or celebrations on public school campuses” and emphasized the importance of full transparency in terms of curriculum and parental rights.

With his statements at the Stand for Truth meeting, Williams demonstrated that he does not agree with California Education Code, Carlsbad Unified Board Policy or the values that the Carlsbad Unified School District should stand for. Therefore, he cannot effectively support all CHS students.

Throughout the meeting, Williams used harmful and hateful comparisons to tear down the LGBTQ+ community, while claiming to care for all CHS students. He argued that his opinion comes from a place of love, not hate, and facts, not interpretations, reiterating that, “It’s not because we’re bigoted, it’s not because we’re 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.”

Part of “loving” students is accepting them and allowing them to celebrate who they are. When one group is prevented from showing pride in their identity, it undermines the rights of other groups as well. If pride for one’s gender or sexuality is prohibited on campus, every group forfeits the right to express themselves.

At the start of the Mission Church meeting, Pastor David Menard cited the flaws within the ideas of separation of church and state, claiming that the Founding Fathers “never meant to separate God out of government” and that the church’s goal was to “bring biblical morality back into government, back into our schools.”

If a CHS administrator is backing the message that Christian values should be infused in public school policy, how can they make unbiased decisions for the good of all students, including those who are not part of the Christian faith?

Williams also expressed deep concern regarding the mental health of queer students. He supported his calls to end LGBTQ+ student organizations with a hypothetical “chess club,” questioning why a school would allow a club on campus if they discovered that club members had a high suicide rate. At no point did he present evidence that a significant number of CHS GSA students are in danger of committing suicide.

Contrary to his belief, however, the presence of an on-campus GSA has been shown to increase the well-being of both gay and straight students. In 2014, the University of British Columbia concluded that GSAs on high school campuses lowered suicide attempts in both bisexual and gay boys by over 70%. Additionally, heterosexual boys were 27% less likely to have suicidal thoughts on campuses with GSAs than they were on school campuses without GSAs. 

A 2016 National Library of Medicine study found that students of all demographics were positively impacted by GSAs. Access to GSAs on campus allows kids to feel more comfortable with their identity, leading to more kids being “out” at school. LGBTQ+ teens who received affirmation from their peers were found to have much higher self-esteem and much lower rates of depression than teens without access to school GSAs. 

In handouts given to those who attended the Stand for Truth Meeting, the LGBTQ+ movement was referred to as a “social contagion.” To support this claim, the church cited an article from the UCLA Williams Institute School of Law: “Nearly one in five people who identify as transgender are ages 13-17.” 

Upon further inspection, however, the same study found that “overall, based on estimates from 2016-2017 and the current report… the percentage and number of adults who identify as transgender has remained steady over time.” The falsely interpreted claim that support for the so-called “transgender ideology” acts as a social contagion or trend is nothing more than fear-mongering. 

Williams even went so far as to liken gender dysphoria to anorexia. He alleged that affirming a transgender person’s identity would merely be fueling their delusional body image. He claimed that “gender-affirming care is biology-denying care.”  The rejection of transgender people’s rights and existence is a message that should not be disseminated by a public educator. 

Three days after the Stand for Truth Meeting, Superintendent Benjamin Churchill issued a statement in response to Williams’ involvement. He reaffirmed the California Education Code’s provisions for LGBTQ+ students, protecting them against discrimination and encouraging comprehensive education of LGBTQ+ history. Though he expressed that he “wholeheartedly disagree[d]” with the comments made at the meeting and highlighted the importance of inclusion, no tangible action has been taken against Williams. 

While there was significant condemnation of Williams’ comments by district staff, students and parents, the controversy also drew support for Williams, with many arguing for the assistant principal’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and religion. 

The community-organized Carlsbad Education Alliance condemned Churchill’s statement and claimed the superintendent was “biased and bigoted” in his refusal to uphold his employees’ rights. 

In a school environment, the First Amendment exists but is conditional. The 1969 Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines ruled that students’ freedom of speech is respected in a school setting until it materially and substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school day. Williams’ words promote discrimination against CHS students and inherently cause disruption.

As journalists, we are not allowed to publish any material that would cause substantial disruption to our school environment. Why should our administrators be treated any differently? 

LGBTQ+ students have been targeted by their peers with flyers supporting Assistant Principal Williams. (Courtesy of Calli Moody)

The circulation of the now-viral Stand for Truth Meeting video has sparked backlash ranging from posters taped around campus to threats to those involved. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have been approached on campus by other students and handed flyers expressing support for Williams. These flyers are not being distributed to everyone; LGBTQ+ students are being targeted.

Hatred and bigotry will not foster a safe learning environment; proactive action against Williams and support for those affected by his remarks will. 

As students, we want to see school leaders who reflect our desire for equity and diversity on campus. As students, we want our identities to be validated. As students, we want to feel safe.

How are we supposed to feel safe when a member of our administration is actively encouraging the elimination of programs designed to support us? How are we expected to place our trust in an administrator who disrespects who we are? How can we stand idly by when one of our leaders is propagating hate? 

The intolerance of LGBTQ+ students on a public school campus is unacceptable. The CHS community should be a place where the identities of students and staff are accepted and respected, not questioned and belittled. We must continue to cultivate a learning environment in which all students receive the support they need to be themselves, but that goal is only possible if our leaders stand beside us.