The AG for California alerts schools about the legal violation of outing transgender students

In a groundbreaking move for transgender rights in education, California Attorney General Rob Bonta has issued a stern warning to school districts and charter schools across the state. This legal alert, distributed on January 10, 2024, explicitly cautions against forced gender identity disclosure policies, a topic that has ignited considerable debate in recent times.

The Crux of the Legal Alert

Attorney General Bonta’s alert targets policies that mandate school personnel to disclose a student’s gender identity or gender nonconformity to parents or guardians without the student’s consent. This includes situations where such disclosure could put students at risk of physical, emotional, or psychological harm. For instance, schools are required to inform parents if a student uses a name or pronoun differing from their birth certificate, or participates in programs or uses facilities not aligning with their gender at birth.

The Constitutional and Legal Violations

The Attorney General emphasizes that these forced outing policies infringe upon several state protections, including:

  1. California’s Equal Protection Clause: Unlawfully discriminating against students based on their gender identity or expression.
  2. California’s Education and Government Code: Violating anti-discrimination protections that are a fundamental right in the state.
  3. California’s Constitutional Right to Privacy: The mandate violates both informational and autonomy aspects of privacy.

The Implications for Transgender Students

The repercussions of such policies are far-reaching and deeply concerning. Research underscores the criticality of allowing transgender students to control the disclosure of their identity. Statistics paint a grim picture:

  • One-in-ten transgender individuals face violence from family members.
  • 15% of transgender youths have either run away or been evicted from their homes.
  • A staggering 46% of transgender students have missed school due to safety concerns, and 17% have left school due to severe harassment.
  • 77% of transgender students have encountered negative experiences like harassment and assault, and over half have seriously considered suicide.

The Chino Valley Unified School District Case

The Attorney General’s Office is currently involved in a lawsuit with the Chino Valley Unified School District in Southern California, which has adopted such a policy. A preliminary injunction has been secured by the Attorney General, preventing the district from enforcing this policy while the lawsuit is ongoing.

This legal alert by Attorney General Bonta comes against a backdrop of increased anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies in California. It serves as a reminder of the state’s commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ students. Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, has applauded this move, emphasizing the necessity of a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ youth.

This development marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for transgender rights in education. It sends a clear message to school districts and governing bodies about the importance of respecting and protecting the rights and safety of all students, regardless of their gender identity. As the case with Chino Valley Unified School District unfolds, it will likely set significant precedents for future policies and legal actions in this arena.