CA School Districts Warned About 'Unlawfully' Targeting Trans Students
CA School Districts Warned About 'Unlawfully' Targeting Trans Students

CA School Districts Warned About 'Unlawfully' Targeting Trans Students

CALIFORNIA — School districts across California were notified this week by the state Attorney General’s Office that the forced “outing” of public school kids’ gender identity runs afoul of state law.

On Thursday, Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert addressed to the boards and superintendents of all California county education offices, school districts and charter schools, warning them against implementing forced gender identity disclosure policies.

The policies — which were adopted by several Golden State school districts, including in Orange, Placer, Riverside and San Bernardino counties — specifically target transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The policies are unconstitutional and “detrimental” to the privacy, safety and well-being of these students, Bonta said.

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The disclosure policies require school officials to inform parents/legal guardians whenever students request to use names or pronouns different from those on their birth certificates or official records. The policies mandate that parents/guardians are contacted “even without the student’s permission or when doing so would put them at risk of physical, emotional or psychological harm,” according to Bonta’s office.

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The policies also require parental notification if students request to use facilities or participate in programs that do not align with their sex on official records.

When implemented, the policies have divided several school districts. In Temecula, located in Southwest Riverside County, protests occurred following the policy’s adoption in August.

“Unconstitutional school policies that forcibly out and endanger the psychological and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students have no place in our classrooms,” Bonta said. “Today’s alert serves as a reminder to all school officials of their duty to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment, particularly for our most vulnerable student populations susceptible to violence and harassment. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue safeguarding the civil rights of all students.”

To date, Bonta has the courts behind him. In October, he secured a preliminary injunction from the San Bernardino Superior Court that halted the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. Related: Murrieta, Temecula School Districts ‘Warned’ Following Court Ruling

Before the preliminary injunction, several school districts copied the CVUSD policy. Bonta issued stark rebukes and now some districts are dealing with legal threats. Related article: Lawsuit Against Temecula Valley USD Gets Backing From CA AG Rob Bonta

In his legal alert issued Thursday, Bonta warned that disclosure policies infringe on several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights, including California’s Equal Protection Clause; California Education Code Sections 200 and 220 and Government Code Section 11135; and California’s constitutional right to privacy.

“In sum, by singling out transgender and gender nonconforming students for different, adverse treatment that puts them at risk of harm, forced disclosure policies violate their constitutional right to equal protection and privacy, as well as their statutory protection from discrimination under California law,” Bonta’s legal alert read.

However, the issue is not decided. While a preliminary injunction is in place, the courts are still weighing the merits of the state’s lawsuit against the CVUSD.

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