Union Advises Teachers to Disregard California School District’s Transgender Student Notification Policy

Union Advises Teachers to Disregard California School District’s Transgender Student Notification Policy

Hundreds of parents and students gathered in front of the Chino Valley Unified School District to protest California's decision to keep mask mandate at K-12 schools on Feb. 15, 2022. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/9/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Chino Valley Unified School District’s teachers union in Southern California is advising its members not to follow the district’s new policy requiring teachers to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, claiming the policy violates state privacy laws.
The district’s board voted 4–1 last month to approve the controversial policy, which 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.
The policy has since gained statewide attention, sparking debate about whether the policy is a win for parent rights or whether it violates students’ privacy and jeopardizes their safety.
Associated Chino Teachers, the district’s teacher union, sent an email to their members last week saying it believes the new board policy could violate state student privacy laws.
“[Associated Chino Teachers] believes that the district must follow the California Department of Education’s guidance and protect student privacy rights,” union president Brenda Walker said in an email to members obtained by The Epoch Times.
In the email, Ms. Walker cited California Education Department guidance, which states that “disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s antidiscrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
Ms. Walker also alleged in the email that the policy violates state employment laws by neglecting to bargain with the union ahead of enacting the policy.
The email tells members that if they are faced with such a situation, they should reach out to their administrators for guidance and provides an email template to do so.
It also references a July 20 letter from state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who cited the same state Education Department guidance and advised the district not to enact the policy.
A few weeks later, in August, Mr. Bonta announced he was launching a civil rights investigation into the school district to determine if the policy violates state privacy laws.
“Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of [LGBT] students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity,” Mr. Bonta said.
Board president Sonja Shaw, who introduced the policy in question, said she believes schools should not withhold information from parents “in any context.”
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)

She told The Epoch Times she thought state officials were overstepping boundaries and called Mr. Bonta’s investigation a “ploy to try to scare all other boards across California” from adopting similar policies.
“I will continue to fight for parental rights,” Ms. Shaw said. “I won’t back down and I will stand in the gap to protect our kids from big government bullies.”
The district’s policy is based on Assembly Bill 1314, introduced by California Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) in April but which died in an Assembly committee.
Mr. Essayli penned an Aug. 7 letter to Mr. Bonta questioning the specific legal violations allegedly committed by Chino Valley Unified and asked Mr. Bonta for such clarification.
His letter argued that the state Education Department’s guidance is not law.
“The department does not provide any statutory or court authority supporting its position,” Mr. Essayli wrote. “Never in the history of our jurisprudence have we held that children have a right to privacy from their parents. Clearly, the advice was just that, a political opinion of a state government agency.”
Assemblyman Bill Essayli speaks to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento on March 21, 2023. (Screenshot via California State Assembly)

Assemblyman Bill Essayli speaks to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento on March 21, 2023. (Screenshot via California State Assembly)

Mr. Essayli continued, “The policy actions of [Chino Valley Unified] are in keeping with fundamental constitutional principles ensuring parents continue to direct the care and upbringing of their children. It is for this reason I respectfully request your office explain the legal justification for the civil rights investigation.”
The issue comes after a woman in Berkeley, California, was arrested on Aug. 1 for sending threats regarding the policy to Ms. Shaw, according to the Chino Police Department.
Berkeley resident Rebecca Morgan, 52, was one of several who began threatening Ms. Shaw with harm last month via social media, email, and other messaging forums, according to CBS News Los Angeles.
According to Chino Police, it is investigating other threats directed at the board president.
The Associated Chino Valley Teachers did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

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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