California sues to stop schools from telling parents if their children identify as the opposite sex

California Attorney General Rob Bonta
California Attorney General Rob Bonta | California AG's Office

California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit to stop a school district from enforcing a policy that requires school staff to inform parents if their child requests to identify as the opposite sex.

The Chino Valley School District (CVUSD) passed the policy in July, which led to threats of violence against school board members. Under Policy 5020, schools must inform parents within three days of becoming aware of a student's request to use a different name or pronoun or if the student asks to use the bathroom or play on an athletic team that doesn't align with their sex. 

Bonta filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California on Monday, arguing that the "forced disclosure" policy violates the state constitution, which the attorney general contends "prohibits local educational agencies from infringing on the privacy rights of their students." 

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Bonta claimed that Policy 5020 "unlawfully discriminates" against students who identify as trans or non-binary and alleged that the policy subjects them to harassment and mistreatment. The state believes the policy "shoves" trans students who are not "out" at home "in the closet" while at school.

"Every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity — regardless of their gender identity," Bonta stated Monday. "We're in court challenging Chino Valley Unified's forced outing policy for wrongfully and unconstitutionally discriminating against and violating the privacy rights of LGBTQ+ students." 

In a Tuesday statement to The Christian Post, Andi Johnson, a CVUSD spokesperson, said that before the filing, the district had been working with "complete transparency" to provide Bonta's office with requested documents and records. In addition, the school superintendent spoke with the Department of Justice to confirm the district was providing the necessary files, as the requests changed numerous times. 

"While it has been reported that the Parent Notification Policy and Chino Valley Unified School District wrongfully endanger the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of non-conforming students, past and current practices of the District solidify staff's priority to provide all students with a safe and positive educational experience," the spokesperson said. 

Johnson also highlighted the district's online resource, One-Stop-Shop, where parents and students can submit complaints about harassment and bullying. The spokesperson stressed that the district hosts four community forums to "encourage overall student health."

On top of annual staff training and reporting procedures, the spokesperson highlighted multiple other resources the district offers, including intervention counselors.

"Finally, I would like to share that the Parent Notification policy does protect transgender students and takes their safety extremely seriously," the spokesperson stated. "Through BP 5020.1, staff are required to notify CPS/law enforcement if the student or staff member believes the student is in danger or has been abused, injured, or neglected due to their parent or guardian knowing of their preferred gender identity."

"In these circumstances, CVUSD staff will not notify parents or guardians, but rather, wait for the appropriate agencies to complete their investigations regarding the concerns shared by the student," Johnson continued.

Earlier this month, Bonta announced that he had opened a civil rights investigation to determine if the parental notification policy violated any laws. In a July letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Chino Valley School Board, Bonta promised that he would "take action" if the district enacted the policy. 

As The Christian Post reported, CVUSD's parental notification policy passed in a 4-1 decision, leading to threats of violence against CVUSD Board President Sonja Shaw and other board members. 

Police announced earlier this month that they had arrested Rebecca Morgan, 52, of Berkeley, on Aug. 1 on suspicion of threatening a public official after investigators identified her as "one of those who made threats against members."

Despite the threats CVUSD received, the Murrieta Valley Unified School District passed a similar policy a month later in a 3-2 vote. The policy also requires schools to notify parents within three days of a student requesting to identify as the opposite sex. 

"The stakes are really high when you have young kids who are flirting with these different ideations about what their gender is at a very young age because right now, the state of California, for whatever reason, is intent on allowing minors to alter who they are physically," Clerk Nicolas Pardue said during the meeting. 

Pardue, alongside board President Paul F. Diffley III, submitted the proposal for the policy. In a statement to The Los Angeles Times amid discussions about the policy, Diffley told reporters that, as a parent, he'd want to remain informed about his child's physical and mental health.

"I don't think there should be anything hidden because I have a fundamental right as a parent to bring up my child. ... If I can't get all the information I need to have a reasonable discussion with my child, then the school is not doing its job," Diffley said.

The issue of parental involvement has arisen in multiple school districts throughout the country, with some parents filing lawsuits against school policies requiring information to be withheld from parents if a trans-identified child doesn't want them to know about their gender identity. Another lawsuit sought to restore parents' right to opt their children out of certain lessons and determine their religious upbringing.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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