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California sues school district over transgender disclosure policy

California schools are told not to disclose if students are transgender. One district is now being sued for defying that policy.
California sues school district over transgender disclosure policy
Posted at 10:23 AM, Aug 29, 2023

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District for its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. Bonta alleges that the policy violates the California Constitution and state laws safeguarding civil rights.

In July, the board approved a policy that would notify parents if a student requested to be identified in a gender different than what is on their birth certificate. The policy also required parental notification if a student asks to be identified by a different name. 

Parents are also to be notified if a child requests to use a gender-specific service or facility, such as a restroom, that is not what is on their birth certificate.

The California lawsuit makes three specific allegations against the policy:

California’s Equal Protection Clause

California’s Education and Government Code

California’s constitutional right to privacy

SEE MORE: Bills targeting transgender community stoke fear

"Every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity – regardless of their gender identity," said Bonta. "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 non-conforming 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.”

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. 

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."

Scripps News has contacted the school district for its reaction to the lawsuit. 

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