OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a statement following the Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District Board’s (Board) decision to implement a mandatory gender identity disclosure policy detrimental to the well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students on September 14, 2023. Modeled after other forced outing policies recently enacted by certain school districts, 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. 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. The vote comes after Attorney General Bonta sent an urgent letter to Superintendent Brad Tooker and the Board, expressing serious concern over the proposed Parental Notification policy and emphasizing the potential infringements on students' equal protection, anti-discrimination, safety, and privacy rights.
“Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District’s decision to adopt a forced outing policy poses a serious threat to the emotional, psychological, and physical safety and privacy of transgender and gender-nonconforming students,” said Attorney General Bonta. “My office is closely monitoring the decision and will not tolerate districts that target and compromise the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of this vulnerable community. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue advancing the rights and protections of every student.”
The Attorney General 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 when those environments are not supportive of their gender identity.
- 1 in 10 respondents in a 2014 Trevor Project survey said that an immediate family member had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% ran away from home or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. Fewer than one-in-three transgender and gender nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
- Nearly 46% of transgender students reported missing at least one day of school in the preceding month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable there and 17% of transgender students reported that they left a K-12 school due to the severity of the harassment they experienced at school.
- Seventy-seven percent of students known or perceived as transgender reported negative experiences such as harassment and assault, and over half of transgender and nonbinary youth reported seriously considering suicide in the past year.
Attorney General Bonta underscores the importance of protecting the health and safety of transgender and gender-nonconforming students by adopting methods that allow schools to involve parents while respecting student’s rights to non-discrimination, safety, and privacy. The letter, sent to the Superintendent and Board, encourages adoption of policies on notification that:
- Recognize the significant harms that transgender and gender-nonconforming students may suffer from being “outed” to their parents against their will;
- Respect a student’s express request not to provide such notice and listen closely to the reasons, including fear of emotional, psychological, or physical harm of any kind;
- Help students initiate these conversations with parents, in the time and manner of the family’s own choosing, through counseling and other support services; and
- Inform parents of a student’s gender identity against their expressed wishes, only when there is a specific and compelling need to protect the student’s physical or mental safety.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth:
- Last week, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement condemning the Rocklin Unified School District Board’s decision to implement a mandatory gender identity disclosure policy targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
- Earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement commending the San Bernardino Superior Court’s ruling to issue a temporary restraining order against Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (CVUSD) mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, immediately halting its enforcement.
- Last month, Attorney General Bonta announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of CVUSD’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing a lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta announced opening a civil rights investigation into the legality of CVUSD’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.
- Recently, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement following Anderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decisions to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policy targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.