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California AG deems forced outing in schools ‘unconstitutional’

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal memo on Thursday, urging school districts across the state to stop forcing staff to reveal a student’s transgender and gender-nonconforming status to their parents without the student’s consent.

The attorney general’s office addressed the memo to every school district, charter school board and superintendent in California. Several California districts adopted such “forced outing” policies, alongside requirements to notify parents if their child uses a bathroom or participates in sports that don’t align with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

In the memo, the office argued that singling out transgender and gender nonconforming individuals through forced outing constitutes discrimination against a protected class under California’s Equal Protection Clause.

According to the document, the first way the policy violates the clause is due to gender identity being an inseparable aspect of gender, hence these individuals should be granted protection against discriminatory treatment.

Secondly, the memo emphasized how the policies target a specific group for unfair treatment, constituting illegal gender discrimination. Additionally, Bonta’s office also highlighted the violation of students’ right to privacy by singling them out for adverse treatment that puts them at risk.

We know what the data tells us — that 15% of transgender, gender non-conforming young people are kicked out of their home

Attorney General Rob Bonta.

“Unconstitutional school policies that forcibly out and endanger the psychological and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students have no place in our classrooms,” the attorney general said.

“[Thursday’s] alert serves as a reminder to all school officials of their duty to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment, particularly for our most vulnerable student populations susceptible to violence and harassment,” Bonta added.

Chino Valley’s forced outing

The memo comes amid a legal battle between Bonta and the Chino Valley School District, which enacted the mandatory gender identity disclosure policy in July.

Before the policy’s implementation, the attorney general office had attempted to block it through legal action in August, labeling the school board as “hateful” due to the fierce debate at the July 20 Board of Education meeting where trans students were characterized as “perverse” and suffering from “mental illness.”

Sonja Shaw, president of the Chino Valley School Board, ardently advocates for the policy and has leveled accusations against the attorney general, alleging him to be “obsessed with power.”

“He’s showing that he wants to be the parent of our children and he’s not doing his real job, which is keeping California safe. What is he doing to make them safe at campus by keeping parents out? It absolutely makes no sense,” Shaw said.

Motivated by the belief that it’s a critical issue for parental rights, Shaw remains adamant in her opposition.

“The political cartel has continued to show their cards and I think we just need to stand with our constitutional rights and we need to make sure we protect our kids together,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kristi Hirst, a parent and former teacher in Chino Valley who advocates for LGBTQ students with Our Schools USA, asserted that the policy harms students and families.

“We work with the Rainbow Youth Project … They have that crisis hotline that covers the state of California, and everything this policy is introduced sends kids into crisis,” said Hirst.

Research also shows that transgender and gender-nonconforming adolescents face a higher risk of abuse than their peers. A 2021 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that 73 percent experienced psychological abuse, 39 percent faced physical abuse and 19 percent reported sexual abuse.

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