Chino Valley Unified updates controversial outing policy

Sonja Shaw Chino Valley School District Trans Students

Sonja Shaw is president of the Chino Valley Unified School District board of education. She supports a policy passed by the board in July that requires school officials to out trans students to their parents. On Thursday, the board updated its policy, but LGBTQ+ advocates say it still targets trans and gender nonconforming students. Photo: Chino Valley Unified School District board meeting screenshot.

The Chino Valley school district, which has been sued by the state, updated its controversial outing policy requiring staff to tell parents that a student is using a different pronoun or bathroom designated for another gender.

The updated policy will only mention that a child has requested to change their student records.

The Chino Valley Unified School District board approved the amended policy during its Thursday meeting

The district is still embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Democratic state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who called the original policy discriminatory.

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The updated policy keeps the original rule requiring staff to notify parents within three days of their child requesting any changes to their “official or unofficial records,” although it doesn’t explain what that means.

References to gender identification changes were erased from the policy.

LGBTQ+ advocates said the new mandate is nothing more than a legal loophole to repackage the same policy that continues to violate students’ rights, according to the Associated Press.

“They’re just broadening the scope so that they don’t obviously single that population out,” Kristi Hirst, co-founder of the public education advocacy group Our Schools USA, told AP. “But the intent behind it, in my opinion, is no different.”

A judge last year blocked part of the policy that required schools to tell parents if their child asks to change their gender identification. He denied the state’s request, in October, to block another part of the policy requiring schools to notify parents about a child’s effort to change information in their student records.

Emily Rae, a lawyer representing the district, said the board considered the updated policy in response to the judge’s rulings.

Chino Valley Unified school board President Sonja Shaw, who helped write the initial policy, said, with a straight face, before the vote Thursday that the board is committed to upholding the rights of parents and prioritizing the well-being of students.

Teachers, parents, and advocates who oppose the school board policy say it could put students’ safety at risk if they live in abusive households.

Andrea McFarland, a high school English teacher for Chino Valley Unified, said the policy the board approved last year was unfair to teachers.

“I don’t want to be put in that place to have to choose between potentially putting a child in an unsafe position when they walk in the door at home,” McFarland told the AP. “I don’t know what they’re walking into.”

She said the updated policy is unclear about what would be considered “unofficial records,” a term McFarlant hasn’t heard used in her 13 years as an educator.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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