Teachers in the Chino Valley school district are required to tell parents if their child identifies as transgender, even if the student doesn’t want the parents to know.
The polarizing and controversial “parental notification” policy was approved by the Chino Valley Unified School District near the end of a tense four-hour meeting on Thursday in a 4-1 vote. Andrew Cruz, Jonathan Monroe, James Na, and Sonja Shaw voted “yes,” while Donald Bridge voted “no.”
The policy is scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of the 2023/2024 school year.
It follows on the heels of the anti-gay school board banning the Pride flag last month. In updating its flag policy, the Chino Valley school district said on U.S., state, and certain military flags can be displayed at schools and on district property.
The policy, which mirrors AB 1314 that was introduced earlier this year and died in committee, requires schools to notify parents in writing within three days after their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence or talks about suicide. Under the policy, schools will notify parents if their child wants to change their name or pronouns or asks for access to gender-based sports, bathrooms or changing rooms that do not match their assigned gender at birth.
The packed meeting on Thursday of more than 300 people drew a crowd LGBTQ+ supportive residents and hostile anti-trans people.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond showed up to voice support for LGBTQ+ students and express concern about the controversial policy, saying it could put youth who do not live in supportive households or families at risk.
After Thurmond made his remarks during public comment and left the podium, Shaw, the board president, yelled at Thurmond, claiming his actions in Sacramento “pervert children” and forced the board to implement the policy, which was initially discussed in June.
When Thurmond asked for a “point of order” to respond to her accusations, she threw him out of the meeting. Some people in the audience chanted, “kick him out” as Thurmond was escorted from the meeting.
In a statement Friday, Thurmond shared his distress over the Thursday evening meeting and his support for LGBTQ+ students.
“The actions of this board are deeply troubling — and I’m not talking about being thrown out of a public meeting — I am talking about the blatant disregard for student privacy and safety,” Thurmond said.
“Forced outing policies harm everyone — students, parents and guardians, families, and school staff. What CVUSD has done may be in violation of state law,” he said. “We will be working closely with the State Attorney General’s office to verify and enforce California law.”
In a statement late Thursday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta warned that the notification policy potentially infringes on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities and said he would “not hesitate to take action as appropriate to vigorously protect students’ civil rights.”
At the school district meeting, board member Cruz gave remarks that drew an immediate outcry from the audience.
“There has always been man and woman, and then you have this transgender, and it is not going to stop there, and it is a mental illness,” Cruz said.
As he spoke, an audience member asked him why he would lie, adding “if you want children to die just say that.”
Shaw kicked out several members of the audience, some of whom continued to verbally fire back at Cruz for his comments.
School board member Bridge, who cast the only “no” vote on the “parental notification” policy, said he believes the policy is dangerous and “puts kids back in the closet and slams the door.”
“If this policy is enacted,” Bridge said, “it will effectively shut the door on a student confiding in a teacher.”