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Judge Temporarily Blocks California School's Policy Requiring Parental Notification If Child Switches Gender Identity

Ruling states that under state law, 'parents have no right to the disclosure of information on their child’s gender identity'

A San Bernardino County Superior Judge has temporarily blocked a California school district’s policy requiring schools to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender or uses a name or pronoun differing from what appears on their birth certificate.

The Chino Valley Unified School District policy would also require parents to be notified if their child wants to use a bathroom that does not correspond with their biological sex.

In July, the policy was approved by the Board of Education. Sonja Shaw, Chino Valley Unified Board President, said that parents have a right to know what’s happening with their children.

“We’re going to safeguard parental rights,” Shaw said. “That is a constitutional right and we’re going to make sure that our parents at Chino Valley know they’re sending their kids here to be taught, not to be anything else.”

Critics of the policy — including California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who filed the lawsuit seeking to have it overturned — argue that it is a “forced outing” rule that violates state constitutional rights.

Bonta said the policy breached equal protection clauses within the state’s constitution and infringed upon privacy rights of students.

During an oral ruling, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Garza said, “The concern is how do we safeguard these students that identify as LGBTQ, and in my view, it’s a situation that is singling out a class of protected individuals differently than the rest of the students.”

In his 11-page opinion, Garza cited a decision by the California Supreme Court, which, as he explained, held that “a minor’s constitutional right to privacy and autonomy is violated by a sweeping forced disclosure provision that burdens a minor’s ability to express their core values and identity.”

He reiterated that “The California Constitution provides no right for parents to compel school personnel to report that students are members of a protected class” before citing three sections of the state’s education code (Ed. Code, § 51101, § 48980, § 48911), which declare that parents have no right to the disclosure of information on their child’s gender identity.

Given other recent legal challenges, it is unclear if a permanent block of the policy will ultimately prevail. The ruling comes only days after a California school was ordered to pay a mother $100,000 for attempting to transition her daughter’s gender behind her back.

Following the judge’s ruling, Bonta hailed the injunction as a win for LGBTQ rights.

“San Bernardino Superior Court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order rightfully upholds the state rights of our LGBTQ+ student community and protects kids from harm by immediately halting the board’s forced outing policy,” Bonta said in a statement. “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. 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.”

The Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education serves around 26,000 students.

A spokesperson for the district told ABC News “past and current practices of the district solidify staff’s priority to provide all students with a safe and positive educational experience,” while adding, “the Parent Notification policy does protect transgender students and takes their safety extremely seriously.”

The next scheduled hearing on the matter is for Oct. 13.

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