Chino Valley Unified School District staff would be required to out transgender children to their parents or guardians, under a proposal being considered by the school board Thursday.
If approved, that policy would put the school district at direct odds with the California Department of Education, which has issued guidance to school districts to protect the privacy of transgender students who may not be out at home.
A spokeswoman for the CDE said that the department stands by its guidance, “which promotes the goals of reducing the stigmatization of and improving the educational integration of transgender and gender nonconforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and supporting healthy communication between educators, students, and parents to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.”
The proposed policy would require schools to notify parents and guardians in writing within three days of learning that a student has requested to be identified by a different gender. They must also be informed if a student has used a name other than their legal name, or accessed a bathroom other than the one for their sex assigned at birth.
“This policy is meant to foster trust between district employees, and our students’ parents and guardians,” said District Board President Sonja Shaw in a statement. “I stand for the authority of parents to guide the upbringing of their children and their involvement in decisions related to their education, health, safety, and wellbeing.”
The policy is supported by the Coalition for Parental Rights, which includes the California Family Council, the Pacific Justice Institute, and Moms for Liberty. The latter group recently was designated an anti-government extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a statement, the coalition pointed to a recent Rasmussen poll showing that 62% of California voters would support a law requiring schools to inform parents and guardians if their child is transgender.
The group also included a statement from Riverside Republican Assemblyman Bill Essayli, author of Assembly Bill 1314, which would have required notification. The Chino Valley school board voted in April in favor of a resolution in support of that bill.
The bill never got a hearing. The chair of the committee that would have heard the bill called it bad policy that “would provide a forum for increasingly hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ youth.”
Essayli called his bill “a commonsense proposal.”
“It was stopped by the supermajority Democrat(sic) Party in Sacramento despite strong support from parents. While they certainly have the votes to control the agenda in Sacramento, they do not have the votes to stop us in our communities,” Essayli said.
Transgender youths often have a reason for keeping their gender identity secret at home.
An August 2021 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that transgender and gender-nonconforming adolescents are more likely than their peers to experience physical, psychological or sexual abuse. A 2022 survey by the Trevor Project found that fewer than a third (32%) of trans and nonbinary youths view their home as a gender-affirming place.
The proposal, which comes during LGBTQ Pride Month, is happening amid a wave of violence and hostility toward that community. State legislatures across the country have passed laws restricting access to gender-affirming care, prohibiting trans people from accessing the bathroom matching their gender identity and removing trans children from the custody of gender-affirming parents.
Even in liberal California, there are pockets of anti-LGBTQ sentiment throughout the state.
In Chico, the school district has been sued by a mom angry that the district allegedly helped her child transition genders without informing her. Rep. Doug LaMalfa recently testified against that district’s policy of protecting the privacy of transgender students.
In Temecula, the school board voted to reject a social studies curriculum that included San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the state.
In Glendale, a brawl broke out outside the school board meeting as the board voted to affirm a resolution recognizing June as Pride Month.
And a school district near San Diego is facing a lawsuit from two teachers who allege that the First Amendment protects their right to inform parents and guardians whether a student is transgender.
Jorge Reyes Salinas, of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California, said that Chino Valley Unified’s proposal is “truly sick” and that it “directly, blatantly goes against state law.”
“This is not the first time that we’re seeing this from the Chino Valley Unified school board,” he said.
The board in November 2021 narrowly voted down a resolution that would have excluded transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. Both Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office issued a statement warning the board against voting for the resolution, according to EdSource.
Salinas accused Assemblyman Essayli of carrying out his agenda at the local level after failing to get it passed statewide.
“It’s disgusting, it’s truly disgusting for a person who has a position of leadership to target LGBTQ youth,” Salinas said.