California DOJ Sues Chino Valley Unified School District to Stop ‘Forced Outing’ as AG Takes on Growing Number of State School Districts over ‘Unconstitutional’ Policies

By The Vanguard

LOS ANGELES. CA – The California Dept. of Justice Monday announced it has filed a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) to “immediately halt the enforcement of mandatory gender identity disclosure policy,” adopted in July.

Attorney General Rob Bonta said the policy “requires schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission (and) requires notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their sex on official records.”

Bonta challenged the policy, which he maintains “violates the California Constitution and state laws safeguarding civil rights, and has already caused and is threatening to cause LGBTQ+ students with further mental, emotional, psychological and potential physical harm.”

The Chino Board’s policy, noted the DOJ pleading, “has already placed transgender and gender-nonconforming students in danger of imminent, irreparable harm from the consequences of forced disclosures (and) unlawfully discriminates against transgender and gender nonbinary students, subjecting them to disparate treatment and harassment, including mental, emotional, and even physical abuse.”

The suit adds, “These students are currently under threat of being outed to their parents against their will, and many fear that the District’s policy will force them to make a choice: either ‘walk back’ their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to gender identity and gender expression, or face the risk of emotional, physical, and psychological harm.”

The lawsuit charges the Chino Board’s “plain motivations in adopting the policy were to create and harbor animosity, discrimination, and prejudice towards transgender and gender-nonconforming students, without any compelling reason to do so, as evidenced by statements made during the Board’s hearing.”

In discussions, “board members made a number of statements describing students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming as suffering from a ‘mental illness’ or ‘perversion,’ or as being a threat to the integrity of the nation and the family. The Board President went so far as to state that transgender and gender nonbinary individuals needed ‘non-affirming’ parental actions so that they could ‘get better.’”

The lawsuit is just one battle on the gender identity front the DOJ is fighting.

Bonta has already opened a civil rights investigation in to the legality of Chino Valley Unified School District’s adoption of its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, after warning the board of the “dangers of adopting its forced outing policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.”

And, this month, Bonta issued statements to Anderson Union High School DistrictTemecula and Murrieta Valley Unified School Districts after their boards’ “decisions to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policy targeting transgender and gender nonconforming students.

“Every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity—regardless of their gender identity,” said AG Bonta, adding, “We’re in court challenging Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy for wrongfully and unconstitutionally discriminating against and violating the privacy rights of LGBTQ+ students.”

The AG added the “forced outing policy wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of non-conforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home. Our message to Chino Valley Unified and all school districts in California is loud and clear: We will never stop fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ students.”

Bonta said Chino’s policy infringes on “state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights,” including California’s Equal Protection Clause, because the policy “unlawfully discriminates and singles out students who request to identify with or use names or pronouns different from those on their birth certificates, or who access programs or facilities that, in the view of the Board, are not ‘aligned’ with the student’s gender.”

The AG said the policy violates the California’s Education and Government Code, that states “Education is a fundamental right in California, and California Education Code Sections 200 and 220 and Government Code section 11135 also ensure equal rights and opportunities for every student and prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. The policy violates these fundamental anti-discrimination protections.”

Bonta also noted the school district is violating the California constitution that he said “expressly protects the right to ‘privacy,’ including both ‘informational privacy,’ and ‘autonomy privacy,’ and the policy’s mandate to out transgender and gender-nonconforming students against their wishes or without their consent violates that right.”

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

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