California Judge Blocks School District’s Policy Notifying Parents of Child’s Gender Status Change

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California Judge Blocks School District’s Policy Notifying Parents of Child’s Gender Status Change

Sonja Shaw, president of Chino Valley Unified, speaks at a press conference outside the California state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 14, 2023. (Courtesy of California Family Council)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

9/6/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

A California judge Sept. 6 temporarily blocked a local school district’s parent notification policy—which would require schools to notify parents when their child identifies as transgender—at the request of State Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Last week, Mr. Bonta announced the state was suing Chino Valley Unified School District in Southern California over the policy, which was enacted in July and later also passed by three other local school districts this summer.
San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Tom Garza granted the state’s request for a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the district’s policy. The case will have its second hearing on Oct. 13.
In the ruling, Judge Garza said the district “lacks a strong basis in evidence” that its policy advances parental rights, and called it a “thin veneer” for discrimination against LGBT youth.
“[The] defendant claims that the policy’s forced disclosure provisions advance a compelling interest in parental rights ... this claim is a thin veneer for the invidious discrimination that in fact animates the policy,” the judge wrote.
Mr. Bonta argued that the policy would put the safety of LGBT youth at risk if their parents are unsupportive of their child’s desire to transition.
In a Sept. 6 statement, the attorney general said the ruling will “protect kids from harm.”
“While this fight is far from over, today’s ruling takes a significant step towards ensuring the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students,” Mr. Bonta stated. “As we continue challenging the policy in court, my office will continue providing our unwavering support to ensure every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Chino Valley Unified Board President Sonja Shaw—who introduced the policy—told The Epoch Times she would continue fighting for children’s well-being by protecting parental rights.
“The battle has just begun,” Ms. Shaw said in a statement to The Epoch Times via text message. “We can prevail as long as we stand united and strong against this agenda to marginalize parents and separate us from our children. Politicians in Sacramento are not qualified to parent our children.”
Ms. Shaw also claimed that Judge Garza issued the order “without reading our briefs in full.”
“We spent months assembling a thoughtful policy that allows parents to be involved in their child’s life,” Ms. Shaw said. “The policy does not stop any lifestyle changes, it simply says parents have a right to know what is going on at school and not be the last person to be informed.”
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)

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)

The state’s lawsuit alleges that the policy infringes on several state-issued civil and constitutional rights for transgender or gender non-conforming students—including California’s Equal Protection Clause, the lawsuit claims—and California’s constitutional right to both “informational privacy,” and “autonomy privacy.”
Additionally, it cites state education and government codes that ensure equal rights and opportunities for students and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
Supporters of the notification policy said parents have a right to decide how their children should be educated and protected.
“[Coalition for Parental Rights] members are extremely confident the Parent Notification Policy adopted by [Chino Valley Unified] and by three other school districts will be protected from the state by parental rights protections well established by US Supreme Court precedent,” the coalition said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times after the ruling.
The statement cited a phone and online survey—conducted by Rasmussen Reports and released in June—that showed 84 percent of participants, who are California potential voters, would support “a local law that required parents to be notified of any major change in a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or academic performance.”
Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) also said he is confident that parents’ right to be involved in their children’s education is legally protected.
California State Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) speaks at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

California State Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) speaks at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“The opinion of one state court judge is not binding on any other school board or court,” Mr. Essayli said in the coalition’s statement. “This ruling will be appealed and ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court, which will reaffirm over a century of jurisprudence that parents have the right to raise their children free from government interference.”
The assemblyman proposed a state bill earlier this year to enact the notification policy statewide, but it was rejected in committee before it was heard. Since then, he has been introducing the proposal to local school districts in California—including Chino Valley Unified—for consideration.
“I encourage other school districts to continue their deliberative process and to not be deterred by the Attorney General’s intimidation tactics we saw displayed in court today,” he said in the statement.
Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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