Murrieta Valley Unified schools must notify parents if their child wishes to identify as transgender under a new policy approved by the district’s board at a board meeting in Murrieta, Calif., on Aug. 10, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)
Murrieta Valley Unified schools must notify parents if their child wishes to identify as transgender under a new policy approved by the district’s board at a Aug. 10 board meeting, after fierce community debate.
The board voted 3–2 to approve the policy
—with trustees Paul Diffley, Nick Pardue, and Julie Vandegrift approving and trustees Nancy Young and Linda Lunn dissenting.
The new rule requires schools to notify parents in writing within three days if their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence, or shares thoughts of suicide, and is based on a similar policy enacted
by the Chino Valley Unified School District last month.
Under the policy, parents are also to be notified if their child requests to use names, pronouns, athletic programs, bathrooms, or locker rooms that don’t “align with the student’s biological sex or gender,” as well as any requests to change information in their school records.
In response to criticism that the policy was “overbroad,” the board passed it with a provision allowing modifications in the coming weeks.
Ahead of the vote, Mr. Pardue, who introduced the policy along with Mr. Diffley, said he wanted it to be approved to “[send] a strong signal to the community that we stand with parental rights.”
“The stakes are really, really high,” he said. “We have young kids who are flirting with these different ideations about what their gender is at a very young age because right now the state of California, for whatever reason, is intent on allowing minors to alter who they are physically ... and I think parents are very, very concerned about that.”
Ms. Lunn, however, said she believed passing the policy “sends a clear message to our students that they are not safe in our schools,” and Ms. Young agreed, saying she opposed the policy because she thought “outing” transgender students to unsupportive parents could risk their safety.
“It’s not like these kids are not telling their parents that they’re LGBT, they are,” Ms. Young said. “If they don’t, they have a very good reason.”
The meeting drew a crowd of more than 150 parents, teachers, and community members on both sides of the issue.
Those in opposition echoed Ms. Young’s argument that such could make LGBT students feel unsafe.
“Your LGBT students who already have more to deal with than their straight and cis peers ... are going to feel unseen and unvalued,” said one community member. “This policy is truly about homophobia. But the worse consequence that will come from this resolution is that kids will no longer have that one trusted adult in their life which we know saves lives.”
State leaders also weighed in on the policy through published statements.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who spoke in person against Chino Valley Unified’s policy at its meeting last month, asked the board to withdraw the proposal in a letter
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Rob Bonta denounced the district’s policy in a statement Aug. 11
“I am deeply disturbed to learn another school district has put at risk the safety and privacy of transgender and gender nonconforming students by adopting a forced outing policy,” Mr. Bonta said. “My office remains committed to ensuring school policies do not target or seek to discriminate against California’s most vulnerable communities.”
Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonja Shaw speaks in support of a parental rights policy proposal at a press conference in Chino, Calif., on June 15, 2023. (California Family Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Supporters of the policy argued that parents have a right to know important details about their child’s life.
“The parents have the final responsibility for—and the greatest stake in—their children’s upbringing,” one parent said during public comment.
Another parent called the policy a “safeguard to our right to parent.”
Nineteen-year-old detransitioner and activist
Chloe Cole from Northern California also spoke during the meeting, sharing her experience with gender dysphoria that led her to transition from a girl to a boy from the ages of 12 to 16.
Ms. Cole said she was put on cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers at the age of 13 and underwent a double mastectomy at age 15 before deciding to de-transition and live as a female a year later.
“The reality is, sex cannot be changed,” Ms. Cole said. “But regardless of gender, there’s an infinite amount of personalities. My misunderstanding that I was a boy could have just been a harmless part of my experience growing up into a woman.”
Chloe Cole speaks at an Assembly committee hearing for Senate Bill 107 in Sacramento on June 28, 2022. (Screenshot via California State Senate)
She told the board that if her father had known of de-transitioners before she medically transitioned, he would not have allowed her to do so.
“Parents deserve to know if their child is adopting a trans identity at school because transitioning is not harmless,” she said. “There are kids like me getting seriously injured by this. Parents are not useless. They have the tools to work through hardships with their families and they deserve to be given the chance.”