A school district in south-western California has voted to out trans and gender-non-conforming pupils to their parents.
The Murrieta Valley school board passed the proposal by a vote of three-to-two on Thursday (10 August), despite advice from the district’s attorney that the policy could put them on dodgy legal ground.
The proposal, submitted by the board’s president, Paul F. Diffley III, and clerk, Nicolas Pardue, will require school officials to notify parents if pupils use a name, pronouns or toilets which do not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
The policy is based on a similar one adopted by the Chino Valley Unified School District, also in California, last month.
The board meeting was reportedly long and contentious, with members of the public cheering and jeering as the policy was passed.
Supporters of the policy were seen holding signs which read “protect family bonds” while opponents wore rainbow-coloured clothing.
Marinna de Brauwere – a parent of five children in the school district – told the Los Angeles Times, that people do not “choose” to be trans, they just are.
“School may be the one and only affirming space for these transgender youth,” Brauwere said.
Diffley said in an interview prior to the meeting: “As a parent, I would want to know about everything that concerns my child’s mental and physical health while they’re at school.
“I don’t think there should be anything hidden because I have a fundamental right as a parent to bring up my child… If I can’t get all the information [that] I need to have a reasonable discussion with my child, then the school is not doing its job.”
A Californian school board has enacted a policy giving parents the right to know if their child identifies as transgender. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Prior to the meeting, the California state superintendent of public instruction, Tony Thurmond, wrote to the board and urged them to withdraw the policy, saying it creates a “safety risk to LGBTQ+ students”.
While Thurmond said he respects the right of parents to be involved in the school community and for districts to make their own decisions, he does not believe local control extends to policies which could be “harmful to our students or create safety risks for them”.
He warned: “Many LGBTQ+ students are in situations where they could encounter harm or abuse in their own homes if their sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed before they are ready.”
In a statement, the California Department of Education said: “It is critical that schools protect the well-being of students, including some of our most vulnerable students, transgender students.”
The statement pointed out that students have a “legally protected privacy interest under the California Constitution with respect to information about their gender identity.”