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California will investigate school district’s ‘forced outing’ rule

BY: BLAKE JONES | 08/04/2023 06:21 PM EDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s justice department is investigating a Southern California school district’s new policy forcing schools to disclose the identities of transgender and nonbinary students to their parents.

The scrutiny of Chino Valley Unified School District is the latest example of Sacramento Democrats attempting to bat down the embrace of cultural wedge issues by far-right school boards.

What they’re saying: “Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity,” Bonta said in a statement. “Today’s announcement stresses our commitment to challenging school policies that target and seek to discriminate against California’s most vulnerable communities. California will not stand for violations of our students’ civil rights.”

Board President Sonja Shaw said in an interview Friday she was “not backing down” in response to the investigation.

“I think it’s a joke,” Shaw said in a phone interview Friday. “It just makes me sink my feet that much more into the sand and protect the kids against people who have no best interest for them.”

Key context: The attorney general, who is considering a run for governor, had warned the district that its trans student policy may infringe on students’ civil and privacy rights before a newly seated conservative board majority passed the rule last month. Democratic state Superintendent Tony Thurmond, also mulling a run for the office, attended the board’s July meeting to advocate against the policy, but was tossed from the venue — ostensibly because he went over the time he was given to speak.

A similar proposal was introduced in the state Legislature this year by Riverside Republican Bill Essayli, but failed to get a hearing in the Democratic-controlled statehouse.

Bonta, Thurmond and Gov. Gavin Newsom also got involved in a fight over another school board’s rejection of textbooks, citing the presence of a gay rights leader’s presence. That district, in Temecula, eventually reversed its decision under threat of a $1.5 million fine from the state.

What’s next: Essayli, who advocated for Chino Valley’s policy, has promised to help other districts across California to emulate it.

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