The ostensibly conservative dude who was one of two school board members in the tiny East Bay school district of Sunol to vote against having any Pride or other flags on campus last month says he's been receiving death threats.
The harassment can go every which way in today's toxic culture wars. And when a school board member in the Bay Area chose to follow the lead of Fox News and all the queer panic folks on the right, voting to ban all flags at Sunol's elementary school besides the U.S. and state flags, he is receiving some left-wing wrath.
The flag ban was, of course, symbolic of a much larger war being waged from the right on teaching LGBTQ history, acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people in schools, acknowledging that a child can be trans, and providing gender-affirming care to trans kids.
Sunol Glen Unified School District board president Ryan Jergensen, who voted in the ban along with one other colleague and highly contentious mid-September board meeting, tells KTVU this week that he has since suffered all manner of abuse.
"People are threatening me, my wife and my children, threatening our lives in multiple emails," Jergensen tells the station. "That is unacceptable. I will not stand for that."
Jorgensen continued, perhaps digging himself a deeper pit.
"I will not roll over to these bullies, to these deranged individuals who are inciting anger and violence," he tells KTVU. "The U.S. flag is the most inclusive flag there is in the world. It stands for freedom, it stands for liberty, it stands for one nation – together, indivisible. And there is not one student in our school that is not represented by that flag."
Jergensen also protests that he wasn't trying to be political — but come on. He tells KTVU that it was others who brought outside politics into this.
"Ultimately we need to get down to teaching our children," Jergensen says. "Educating our children in math, reading, writing… not focus on any other distractions."
There may be more drama afoot at the Sunol Glen school board, too. The board's last meeting on September 20 was called with just 24 hours notice, and there is a rumor that the board may be trying to oust longtime superintendent and school Principal Molleen Barnes. Barnes was one of the most vocal opponents of the flag ban — and her raising of a Progress Pride flag in June appears to have set off the events of last month.
"We chose to fly the inclusivity flag so the students from the LGBTQ-plus community would know we're a place of equity and inclusivity," Barnes earlier told KTVU.
Also, there's an effort by angry parents to recall Jorgensen from the board — and he tells KTVU he has no intention of resigning.
Jergensen, a dentist and father of five, has only served on the board since the contentious days of 2021, having been appointed to a seat left vacant due to illness. He ran for the seat last year and won, and in comments before the election to Pleasanton Weekly, he said very little that would indicate his political leanings. He only said that his wife is a teacher and with four kids in the district, he has a vested interest in improving and "safeguarding" the school.
Sunol Glen School is a K-8 school with around 270 students, serving parts of unincorporated Alameda County and Fremont.