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    Judge bars Chino Valley Unified from outing transgender students to parents
    • October 20, 2023

    A San Bernardino Superior Court judge Thursday, Oct. 19, granted a state-requested preliminary injunction that prevents the Chino Valley Unified School District from implementing portions of its parental notification policy.

    The policy, adopted by the board in July, sought to require schools to notify parents if a student requests to change their name or pronouns, seeks access to facilities or sports programs that do not align with the gender on their birth certificates, or asks to change their school records.

    In court Thursday, Judge Michael Sachs ruled the policy’s first two provisions forcing outing transgender students to their parents are discriminatory based on sex, violating the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

    The third provision, however, is “neutral facing,” Sachs ruled, because it affects all students, not just those seeking gender-affirming accommodations.

    The final provision of the policy, he added, “is a circumstance in which the students are making this information a voluntary addition to their school records not a mandated obligation.”

    Opponents of the district’s notification policy cheered Sach’s ruling as a win for their side.

    “The judge accurately described the forced outing policy as ‘discriminatory on its face,’ and we agree,” Kristi Hirst, a former teacher, parent and co-founder of Our Schools USA, said in a news release.

    “It’s embarrassing that this school board chooses to ignore the harm they are causing in Chino and in communities throughout California in order to pursue a political crusade,” Hirst continued. “Educating children works best with engaged parents and caring teachers working together to create a safe space for all children to learn – and that’s what school boards ought to be focused on.”

    Sachs said he recognized that all parties are concerned with the safety of students.

    “The issues we are dealing with are significant and important to both the school district, the parents, the teachers, as well as the students,” said Sachs. “I am hopeful the decisions I make today will provide some (clarity) to San Bernardino and the Inland Empire.”

    RELATED: What do conflicting judicial decisions mean for parental notification policies?

    Chino Valley is expected to return to court Feb. 26, 2024 to decide on a formal trial date.

    “We look forward to defending Chino Valley’s policy as the case moves forward,” Emily Rae, senior counsel with the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing the district in court, said in a statement.

    “Both the law and public opinion are on Chino Valley’s side — recent polling shows that a supermajority of Californians believe parents should be involved in their kids’ education and that schools should not keep secrets from parents,” Rae said.

    The matter landed in court in September, after state Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit to block implementation of the CVUSD notification policy.

    On Sept. 6, Superior Court Judge Thomas Garza granted the state-requested temporary restraining order, which put the policy on hold.

    At the time, Garza said he granted the injunction in an “abundance of caution,” noting that while most parents are not a danger to their children there are exceptions.

    The notification policy introduced in June requires schools to notify parents in writing within three days after their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence or talks about suicide. The provisions related to outing transgender students have drawn ire from LGBTQ students and advocates.

    Meanwhile, as of Sept. 15, seven school districts have adopted their own parent notification policies including Murrieta, Temecula, and Orange school districts.

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    ​ Orange County Register