Education /

State Superintendent Advocates Against Parental Rights Policy, Board Approves Measure

Tony Thurmond: 'Many LGBTQ+ Students Are In Situations Where They Could Encounter Harm Or Abuse'

California State Superintendent of  Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued a letter to Murrieta Valley Unified School Board criticizing a proposed policy requiring schools to inform parents of children requesting to be identified as transgender.

“I am writing to you regarding an item you will be discussing this evening that could create a safety risk for LGBTQ+ students — specifically, a policy that could force your school employees to out students who identity as LGBTQ+ at risk,” Thurmond wrote. “I respectfully request that you withdraw this item from discussion and reconsider this misguided approach.”

Thurmond detailed his experience as a parent of children in public school also noting his previous experience serving as an elected public school trustee.

“I believe in the rights of parents to be a part of the school community and involved in what students learn in school,” he continued. “I respect the rights of school districts to make decisions and implement policies that meet the unique needs of those served by their communities.”

“I do not believe that local control extends the right to enact policies that could be harmful to our students or create safety risks for them in their homes or communities.”

“Many of our laws and traditions speak to the privacy rights of all Californians, including public school students,” Thurmond continued. “Unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ students are in situations where they could encounter harm or abuse even in their own homes if their sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed before they are ready.”

He continued:

Sadly, nearly half of LGBTQ+ students in our state have considered suicide. A policy such as the one proposed to be discussed could be harmful to these students. As we speak, other districts that have pursued such policies find themselves under investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office for potential civil rights violations. I urge you to protect and preserve the well-being of your students and prevent your district from experiencing any unnecessary potential liability or scrutiny. Fundamentally, these are important conversations that families-students and their parents together should decide when and how to have. It is not the role of the school district or school employees to make that determination for them.

“Your district is recognized for so many programs to promote academic achievement and the social development of your students,” Thurmond concluded. “I look forward to when we can engage in conversations about how to best promote the health, well-being, and success of our students.”

During a Thursday meeting, Murrieta School Board voted 3-2 in favor of adopting the policy requiring the district to notify parents of students identifying as LGBTQ+

The Murrieta Valley school board’s policy reportedly mimicked Chino Valley Unified School District’s policy enacted in July.

“The Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education strives to foster trust between the District and parents)/guardian(s) of its students,” reads Chino Valley School District’s policy. “To that end, the Board supports the fundamental rights of parent(s)/guardian(s) to direct the care and upbringing of their children, including the right to be informed of and involved in all aspects of their child’s education to promote the best outcomes.”

Per the policy, school administration must notify parents or guardians of a child’s request to be identified or treated as transgender, or any other gender besides the child’s biological sex, in writing and within three days.

School administration must also notify parents or guardians if students request access to “sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, or using bathroom or changing facilities that do not align with the student’s biological sex or gender listed on the birth certificate or other official records.”

The policy further requires the school administration to notify parents of any student’s statement regarding suicidal intent.

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