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California AG Sues Chino Valley School District Over Policy Outing Trans Students

California AG Sues Chino Valley School District Over Policy Outing Trans Students

California AG Rob Bonta and Chino Valley logo

The policy violates students' rights under the California constitution and state law, Attorney General Rob Bonta says.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta has sued the Chino Valley Unified School District over its policy of outing transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students to their parents or guardians.

The policy, adopted by the school board in July, requires schools to inform parents or guardians, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission. It also requires notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their sex on official records.

In the suit, filed Monday in San Bernardino County Superior Court, Bonta asserts that the policy violates California’s equal protection clause by singling out these students; the state’s education and government codes, which ensure equal rights and opportunities for every student and prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression; and the right to privacy under California constitution.

The suit further alleges that the policy has already placed trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students “in danger of imminent, irreparable harm from the consequences of forced disclosures” and that the board’s “plain motivations in adopting the policy were to create and harbor animosity, discrimination, and prejudice towards transgender and gender-nonconforming students,” says a press release from Bonta’s office.

During debate on the policy, board members said that being trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming was a “mental illness” and a “perversion,” according to the release. “The Board President went so far as to state that transgender and gender nonbinary individuals needed ‘non-affirming’ parental actions so that they could ‘get better,’” the release says.

“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 said in the release. “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. The forced outing policy wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of nonconforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home. Our message to Chino Valley Unified and all school districts in California is loud and clear: We will never stop fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ students.”

“I refuse to stand by and allow Chino Valley or any district board of education to put our children at risk or infringe upon their rights, especially not one of our most vulnerable at-risk groups,” Bonta added at a Monday news conference in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Across the country and in our own backyard, the LGBTQ+ community is under attack, and transgender and gender-nonconforming students are on the front lines.”

California LGBTQ+ groups praised Bonta’s action. “Equality California strongly supports Attorney General Rob Bonta’s decision to file a lawsuit against Chino Valley Unified School District challenging their recently approved forced outing policy for transgender students,” said a statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang. “This policy infringes on the rights and privacy of transgender students and sets a dangerous precedent that can lead to discrimination against others.

“The LGBTQ+ community, and transgender people in particular, have long faced discrimination, harassment and violence. Policies like those approved by the Chino Valley school board and school boards in Murrieta Valley and Temecula are intensifying the already alarming increase of anti-LGBTQ+ hate we are experiencing. California must stand up against these policies that fly in the face of the principles of equality and respect for all people. … It is our duty to ensure that all students, regardless of their gender identity, feel safe, respected, and protected within our educational institutions. This lawsuit sends a clear message that discrimination and harassment have no place in our schools, and no place in California.”

“The Los Angeles LGBT Center applauds Attorney General Rob Bonta for his support of LGBTQ+ youth and safe, affirming school environments,” said a statement from Terra Russell-Slavin, the center’s chief impact officer. “Chino Valley Unified School District will learn today that when you come for our community, we show up with everything we have.

“For months now, the far-right attack on school boards, education, and books has come to LA’s doorstep. What started with the outrageously bigoted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida has morphed into a monstrous barrage of attacks on our schools, students, and educators—everywhere from Chino Valley to Temecula, North Hollywood to Glendale. This is a gross imposition of religion on the public school system, and a violation of California’s existing laws that protect marginalized people in public institutions. … We at the center want our young people to know: There is absolutely a place for you in this world. And we will fight like hell to ensure you have the same rights as everyone else to find it.

“To the good people of Los Angeles — especially our parents and allies — we must come together to fight back against the encroachment of the far right on our communities. Make no mistake, LA: This is round two of the fight for our lives. Just like we did with Prop. 8, we need to once again link arms and show them: Hate may put up a good fight, but it’s love that always wins.”

The lawsuit came after Bonta’s office investigated the Chino Valley school district, and the district offered “complete transparency” during the investigation, a spokesperson told the Times. “At this time, the district is working with its legal counsel to review the lawsuit and its contents,” district spokesperson Andi Johnston added.

Pictured: California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Chino Valley logo

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