LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a lawsuit to immediately halt the enforcement of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. The policy, adopted in July, 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. The policy also requires notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don't align with their sex on official records. In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta challenges the policy, which 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.
“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 Attorney General Bonta. “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 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.”
In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta argues that the policy infringes on several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights, including:
Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the Board’s policy has already placed transgender and gender-nonconforming students in danger of imminent, irreparable harm from the consequences of forced disclosures. 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 Board’s policy thus unlawfully discriminates against transgender and gender nonbinary students, subjecting them to disparate treatment and harassment, including mental, emotional, and even physical abuse.
The lawsuit also asserts this the 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 discussing the policy before its passage, 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.”
Attorney General Bonta has a substantial interest in protecting the legal rights, physical safety, and mental health of children in California schools, and in protecting them from trauma, harassment, bullying, and exposure to violence and threats of violence. Research shows that protecting a transgender student’s ability to make choices about how and when to inform others is critical to their well-being, as transgender students are exposed to high levels of harassment and mistreatment at school and in their communities.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of our LGBTQ+ youth. Prior to filing a lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta announced opening a civil rights investigation into the legality of Chino Valley Unified School District’s adoption of its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting its forced outing policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities. Just days ago, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement following Anderson Union High School District, and Temecula and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decisions to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policy targeting transgender and gender nonconforming students.