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California Attorney General Sues School District Over Anti-Trans Policies

The new policies violate "state laws safeguarding" student rights, state Attorney General Robert Bonta said.

A person holds a sign in opposition to a policy that the Chino Valley school board is meeting to vote on, which would require school staff to "out" students to their parents if they ask to be identified by a gender that is not listed on their birth certificate, July 20, 2023, in Chino, California.

California Attorney General Robert Bonta (D) announced earlier this week that his office will sue a school district in the state over its recently passed policies targeting transgender youth.

In July, the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education enacted new standards for how to treat transgender and nonbinary youth in schools. The policies require parental notification any time an employee becomes aware that a student is using a name or pronoun other than what is listed in the school’s official records, and/or if a student requests to use facilities that differ from the sex listed on their birth certificate.

The policies provide few exceptions to protect the safety and autonomy of students who, if outed to parents with less-than-accepting viewpoints, could suffer extreme mental anguish or even physical abuse as a result.

The decision to pass these policies appears to have been based in hatred and anti-trans fearmongering rather than respect for supposed parental rights — in a board meeting last month, one member falsely described transgender people as suffering from a “mental illness.” A board member who disagreed with the policy was forced out of the proceedings, and the board’s president, Sonja Shaw, claimed that the state was “pushing perversion on our children in every possible way.”

In his announcement on Monday, Bonta asserted that the policies passed by the board violate “the California Constitution and state laws safeguarding [the] civil rights” of students, and have “already caused and [are] threatening to cause LGBTQ+ students … further mental, emotional, psychological and potential physical harm.”

“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.

The 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,” he went on.

Per his press release announcing the lawsuit, Bonta will argue that the policies violate California’s Equal Protection clause, as well as the state’s Education and Government Code, which “ensure[s] equal rights and opportunities for every student and prohibit[s] discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.” The policies also subvert California’s constitutional right to privacy.

According to the lawsuit itself, which seeks to have a state court place an immediate injunction on the policies, the district “has placed transgender and gender nonconforming students in danger of imminent, irreparable harm from the consequences of forced disclosures.”

“These students are currently under threat of being outed to their parents or guardians against their express wishes and will,” the suit goes on. “They are in real fear that the District’s policy will force them to make a choice: either ‘walk back’ their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to gender identity and gender expression, or face the risk of emotional, physical, and psychological harm from non-affirming or unaccepting parents or guardians.”

LGBTQ groups in the state lauded 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 trangender students,” the organization’s executive director, Tony Hoang, said in a statement. “This policy infringes on the rights and privacy of transgender students and sets a dangerous precedent that can lead to discrimination against others.”

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