The image was of a sullen pale and bony person with bright purple hair, clothed in only a rainbow sash. Dark hair speckled their legs and chin, juxtaposed with bright red velour heels and lipstick. On top of their head is a bald spot to connect some sort of 1984-like contraption. An incubator is hooked into their hip, and phone-like devices are etched into their skin. To top it all off, the trans woman is cooking maggots in a stew. To this, Luis Reynoso, a voting trustee of Chabot and Las Positas colleges, had this to say:
“The decay of masculinity, are you surprised?”
Reynoso, a trustee since 2020, upset many with his recent activity on LinkedIn, an app used for professional networking. The derogatory illustration depicted here is only one of many harmful activities Reynoso made publicly available on his LinkedIn, posting anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion rhetoric.
Public awareness of his activity was initiated by one particular post. About apples and bananas.
In late September, Reynoso posted a picture of an apple with text reading: “This is a Banana. If you see an Apple, you’re a Right Wing Extremist.” Little did Reynoso know, this post would be the initial spark to a reputation bomb.
Former LPC Student Government President 2021-2022, Kyle Johnson, was updating his LinkedIn profile when he noticed Reynoso’s post. Johnson, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, replied to the post:
Hi. I would like to note that this picture is commonly used as an Anti-Transgender joke. I am hoping that as a trustee for the Chabot Las Positas Community college school district, that you are not posting this type of content in a harmful anti-LGBTQ+ way.
Reynoso replied: It’s only harmful to common sense if you think the apple is a banana.
That’s when everything exploded.
Apart from his role as a trustee for the Chabot Las Positas Community College District , or CLPCCD, Reynoso is a visiting business professor at Notre Dame University and DeVry University. He also formerly served on the Hayward Unified School District, or HUSD, board from 2002-2022. When he was elected CLPCCD trustee, Reynoso tried to serve on both CLPCCD and HUSD boards, refusing to step off either, until HUSD voted him off due to the conflict of interest.
Hayden Sidun, a second-year LPC student, replied to Reynoso’s post: Harmful and insulting to the student bodies you were elected to lead.
Las Positas College attempts to create LGBTQ+-inclusive spaces. LPC has a Queer Straight Alliance Club, Canvas options for preferred pronouns, an LGBTQ+ resource website and Smart Shops with the goal of raising awareness. Last Thursday, Las Positas raised a pride flag at the top of the campus hill.
LPC President Dyrell Foster spoke at the flag-raising. “Our college is outstanding because we provide an inclusive, welcoming, learning-centered equity-focused environment for our students…The flag is a symbol of our inclusivity, and it’s a statement to our community that says, ‘You are welcomed here. You belong here. You can be your authentic self and your true self,’” Foster said.
According to Johnson, Reynoso did not appropriately respond to him and other commenters.
In the thread, Reynoso called out Sidun for instigating hate, ignoring common sense and promoting victimhood. He said to Sidun and repeated in his replies to other commenters: Politics is about uniting not dividing.
Johnson brought the comment thread and post to the attention of Las Positas Chancellor Ronald Gerhard, who then talked to the trustee. It wasn’t until then Reynoso acknowledged the intention of the post.
Reynoso clarified six comments into the thread: My posting above never mentioned any groups but rather a simple picture about an apple and how it gets redefine(d) by others.
Johnson was not satisfied with this answer. He replied: If what you say is true, offer your support for the LGBTQ+ community. Validate trans identities.
The comment, up to the date of this article, has not been replied to by Reynoso, but he has liked replies defending his position.
On Oct. 6, collaborating with Johnson, Gerhard sent out a statement on “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Belonging” on the behalf of the CLPCCD. He stated the district strives “to create learning and work environments that reflect the communities we serve.”
Gerhard disclosed that Reynoso would offer to have a conversation with the students in the thread to explain his intentions. According to Johnson, neither he nor the other students in the thread were contacted. Johnson also personally messaged Reynoso on LinkedIn.
“Our trustees are really 100% supportive of our LGBTQ+ community,” Gerhard said.
When asked about Reynoso being in support of the community, he said, “I think I could…He expressed that the picture, in the intent of which he posted it, was different than how people perceived it.”
Upon showing Gerhard the photo described at the beginning of the article, he said, “I was not aware.”
In a post from two weeks ago with big bold yellow letters reading “California now allows you to kill born-alive babies after failed abortions,” Reynoso commented: Judgement day comes to all and God will not care too much about the semantics of “reproductive rights” or “it’s my body my choice.”
Two months ago, in a post depicting a group of Native Americans captioned “WHAT A BEAUTIFUL OLD PICTURE. THE BEAUTIFUL NATIVE AMERICANS. THESE SO CALLED SAVAGES SAW THE FUTURE AND WHAT WAS COMING.” Reynoso replied: At a time when women were women and men were men.
Three months ago, in a post about a trans female athlete being nominated for the NCAA “Women of the Year Award,” captioned, “All ‘real’ women need to just drop out of NCAA sports until this is remedied and all men in NCAA sports should support it by doing the same thing,” Reynoso replied: So, this is the future of women sports?
A post from a year ago, with a picture of George Orwell saying “Boy did I call it or what?” is captioned by Reynoso: I wonder what he would say today about our elections, endoctrination of wokeness, gender fluidity and suppression of free speech.
“(He’s) insinuating that respecting a student’s gender-neutral pronouns means that his religion is under attack, and further insinuating that we don’t have to respect the pronouns of our students,” Johnson said.
Johnson calls Reynoso’s posts, “horrific alt-right memes.”
LPC Professor of Sociology and former Academic Senate President Sarah Thompson was active in spreading awareness of the trustee’s activity with faculty once Johnson shared the information with her. She is also serving on an advisory committee this semester to implement LGBTQ+ resolutions from spring 2021. These resolutions include having specific language in class syllabi and making chosen names and pronouns an easy process through Canvas.
“We have a grant from the state where we’re implementing all of these different changes. We’re going to make our landing page much more fleshed out. We’re going to make sure that we fund queer art and make sure the queer straight alliance has an opportunity to hold more events and do outreach,” Thompson said.
Thompson said if Reynoso had initially apologized and taken the post down, no issues would have ensued. She and others are calling for Reynoso’s censure, or a formal statement of disapproval, from the board.
A student or multiple students would need to file a complaint that Reynoso’s statements have personally affected them. Censure would require two members on the board of trustees to speak out.
Another option Thompson provided is to wait until the 2024 elections when Hayward district voters can decide then to vote on the issue.
Thompson discusses the protection of free speech as a member serving a public institution.
”It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility, right? To speak out where other people who may share similar viewpoints don’t necessarily have that consequence-free environment,” Thompson said.
Johnson discredits Reynoso’s effectiveness as a board member for the time he was a student trustee in 2021-2022. He recalls Reynoso pushing for a motion to heavily arm security guards on campus to prevent school shootings, which was denied, and another motion to make the vaccine mandate on campuses a suggestion.
“I would say that his motions typically die because his viewpoint and his desires are not shared by the rest of the board,” Thompson said.
Johnson elaborates, “He loves to ignore the entire board meetings. He pretty much sits on his phone and scrolls on Facebook or whatever form of social media he’s on. How would I be able to tell that if I’m sitting in these board meetings? Ironically, the reflection of his glasses shows exactly what he’s doing.”
“Elected leaders like him get away with stuff like this all the time…I predict that he will remain as a board member until 2024,” Johnson said.
Reynoso was contacted for an interview and initially responded but did not follow up.
Lizzy Rager is the managing editor for The Express. Follow her @ragerwriter.