California attorney general wants final ruling in Chino Valley case

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 She supports a policy passed by the board in July, but since rescinded, that requires school officials to out trans students to their parents. Rob Bonta, the state attorney general, sued the district last year, saying the policy is discriminatory and violates students’ privacy rights, and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the state Constitution. Photo: Chino Valley Unified School District board meeting screenshot.

The state attorney general hopes to put the nail in the coffin of the Chino Valley school district’s forced outing policy.

On Wednesday, Rob Bonta filed a motion for final judgment in Bonta v. Chino Valley Unified School District, the 2023 lawsuit that seeks to overturn the district’s “parental notification” policy that requires schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from the one on their birth certificate or other official records. The disclosure would happen without the student’s permission and even when it would cause physical or mental harm to the student.

The policy also requires notification if a student requests to use facilities or participate in programs that did not align with their sex on official records.

Murrieta Valley defies state order to rescind district’s outing policy

The Chino Valley board of education rescinded the forced outing policy earlier this year, but Bonta, in filing the motion, wants to make sure that it is not re-enacted or implemented in the future and get a ruling that it violates California’s equal protection clause and discriminates against transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

“It took a lawsuit and court order to get Chino Valley to rescind their discriminatory forced outing policy, but even now, the Board has continued to assert that it was lawful, and board members continue to echo the anti-trans rhetoric they relied upon when passing it,” Bonta said in a statement. “Today’s motion seeks to ensure no child becomes a target again by blocking Chino Valley Unified from ever adopting another forced outing policy.”

Bonta sued the district in August, saying the policy violates students’ civil and constitutional rights under California law.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Sachs granted a preliminary injunction in October, but hasn’t yet made a final ruling.

In response to the preliminary injunction, the Chino Valley board of education rescinded the forced outing policy on March 7, but continues to support it in public forums, and the district’s attorney maintains that it is “common sense and constitutional.”

As a result, Bonta suspects the board of education wants to revive the forced outing policy.

The attorney general hopes a final ruling from the judge would end the policy once and for all.

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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