California sues Chino school district, aiming to end policy notifying parents of student gender changes

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has filed a lawsuit against the Chino School District, ordering that a policy that required parents to be notified if their child changed their gender identity is ended. He claims it’s discriminatory and violates privacy and civil rights laws.

According to the lawsuit, the “parental notification policy” proposed by conservative districts in California puts transgender students and gender nonconforming youth in “danger” of “imminent, irreparable injury” by forcing them to “out” at home before their readiness.

The lawsuit states that “They fear the district’s policies will force them to choose between ‘walking back’ their constitutionally and statutory protected rights to gender identification and gender expression or risking emotional, physical, and psychological harm by non-affirming, unaccepting, parents or guardians.”

The lawsuit filed by the state against Chino Valley Unified has escalated culture wars that are taking place on school boards across deep blue California, in some red pockets. It also puts other districts on alert, such as Murrieta Valley Unified or Orange Unified.

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Bonta, at a Los Angeles news conference, said: “I will not stand by while Chino Valley and any district board of educators put our children in danger or violate their rights. Especially not our most vulnerable groups.” “Across the nation and in our backyard, the LGBTQ+ communities are under attack. Transgender and gender nonconforming students, especially, are on the frontlines.”

The Chino Valley Unified School Board, which represents over 26,000 students in the district, approved a policy last month that alerts parents when a child asks to be “identified” or “treated” differently than his or her “biological gender” or gender as listed on their birth certificates. This policy covers student requests for names, pronouns, bathroom and sport preferences and more.

Andi Johnston, a spokesperson for Chino Valley Unified, said the policy “protects transgender children,” pointing out provisions that require teachers and staff to inform child protective services or police if they believe a student is in danger or has been injured at home due to their gender identity.

Johnston wrote in an email that CVUSD staff would not inform parents or guardians if the agency investigating the concerns of the student had completed its investigation.

The lawsuit was filed amid heated discussions at school board meetings about the policy, as well as other hot topics such a critical race theory or LGBTQ+-inclusive texts. Last week, over 100 protesters against LGBTQ+ education marched between Los Angeles City Hall and the L.A. Unified Schools District headquarters.

The notification policies’ supporters have echoed the criticisms made by national Republicans of transgender youths. They also expressed frustration over alleged government overreach, a lack “parental rights”, and an alleged lack of “parental freedoms” sparked by COVID-19 class closures and vaccination requirements.

According to the lawsuit, the parent notification policy discriminates illegally against students on the basis of gender. It also violates California Constitutional guarantees for equal rights and privacy.

Bonta is considering running for governor in the year 2026. He said that school board members, who approved this policy, had “broken their oaths” as elected officials. Before filing the lawsuit, his office warned the district that the policy was probably illegal.

Bonta stated that “they have gone out of their ways, despite warnings about the illegality of such an action in advance, to trample on the rights and children, despite the fact that we warned them of it beforehand.” “They are driven by animus.”

Parents groups supported by Republican lawmakers in the state also promoted a ballot measure proposed for 2024. The initiative would ask voters whether they support a policy statewide to notify parents when a child “requests the school to be treated as transgender.”

Sonja Shaw, the president of Chino Valley Unified School Board and fellow Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, Supt. Tony Thurmond, Superintendent of Public Instruction, for being a “political cartel” that pushes “perversion” on children because of LGBTQ+ policies in schools.

Shaw called the actions of Monday “government overreach”, and “aggressive retaliation” against a measure that was “commonsense” and meant to build trust among schools and parents.

Shaw told The Times, “We won’t back down and will protect our children as much as we can. We aren’t breaking the law.” Parents have a constitutionally protected right to raise their children. “Bring it.”

Gay rights groups, as well as leading California Democrats and transgender youths, have criticized the policies on gender notification, claiming that they are a Republican power grab, which is harmful to them. Republicans, lacking power in the Democratic-controlled Legislature and top ranking offices, have turned their focus to school boards across the state to influence policy.

Newsom also took on the issue. He challenged a Temecula School Board that wanted to reject teaching material because it mentioned the slain gay activist and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk. This is the latest board to adopt the gender notification policy.

According to a study released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, more than 49,000 Californian teens aged 13-17 years identify as transgender. This represents 1.9% of all youths in this age group. In the United States, 300,100 young people identified themselves as transgender. This represents 1.4% of all youths.

According to a survey conducted by the Trevor Project in 2022, a national LGBTQ+ non-profit, less than one third of transgender youths and nonbinary youths feel accepted at home. According to a survey, more than half of transgender people aged 13-25 years considered suicide and one in five actually attempted it.

In a Monday tweet, Scott Wiener (D) of San Francisco said that “the extremists are obsessed with transkids — kids who just want to be themselves and live life as they please — are pushing for proposals that will lead more kids to stay in the closet and commit suicide.” “Leave these kids alone.”