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Judge blocks school district's new transgender notification policy

The state of California argued that many students do not divulge their gender identity to parents due to fears of abuse.
Judge blocks school district's new transgender notification policy
Posted at 7:08 AM, Sep 07, 2023

A California judge issued a temporary restraining order against a California school district for its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. 

The policy adopted by the Chino Valley Unified School District in July would require schools to notify a student's parents if the child requested to be identified as a gender different from what is on their birth certificate. The policy also required parental notification if a student asks to be identified by a different name. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta alleged that the policy violates the California Constitution and state laws safeguarding civil rights.

"San Bernardino Superior Court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order rightfully upholds the state rights of our LGBTQ+ student community and protects kids from harm by immediately halting the board’s forced outing policy," said Bonta. "While this fight is far from over, today’s ruling takes a significant step towards ensuring the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. As we continue challenging the policy in court, my office will continue providing our unwavering support to ensure every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity."

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Prior to the judge's ruling, a spokesperson for Chino Valley Unified schools told Scripps News that its policy protects transgender students. 

"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," a district spokesperson said. "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."

Nearly a decade ago, the state of California passed Assembly Bill 1266, which provided transgender students, among others, a variety of rights. The bill prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of several characteristics, including sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also allows transgender students to participate in athletics. 

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Following the law, the state's Department of Education issued guidance for districts on whether to disclose a student's gender identity. 

"A transgender or gender nonconforming student may not express their gender identity openly in all contexts, including at home," the guidance reads. "Revealing a student’s gender identity or expression to others may compromise the student’s safety. Thus, preserving a student’s privacy is of the utmost importance. The right of transgender students to keep their transgender status private is grounded in California’s antidiscrimination laws as well as federal and state laws.  Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s antidiscrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy."

In court, the state argued that many students do not divulge their gender identity to parents due to fears of violence and emotional abuse. 

The next hearing will be held Oct. 13. 

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