(The Center Square) – Orange Unified School District became the latest and largest school district in California to adopt a parental notification policy requiring notification for gender changes.
Including the adoption by Rocklin Unified School District the day before, California now has six school districts with similar policies in place.
Orange Unified has 42 educational sites and serves 26,000 students. The district’s new policy is modeled on AB 1314, a California Assembly measure proposed by Assemblymember Bill Essayli, R-Woodcrest, which failed to earn consideration in a committee, that would have required parental notification if a student is involved in violence, talks about suicide, or requests to identify with or participate in programs or use school facilities that are for a gender different from what is on their birth certificate or official records.
Orange Unified’s proposed policy included a significant addition not present in other school districts’ notification policies by creating broad exceptions and requiring that the principal or principal designee — not any other school staff member — be the one to notify parents within five days. School staff who are presented with gender-related changes or requests from students have two days to notify the principal. Another difference is that revealing a desire to be treated as a different gender or experiencing gender dysphoria and not acting on said desire would still be grounds for notification, even if in discussion with the school counselor.
If a student over 12 refuses to consent to gender change disclosure to their parents, or if the “school counselor, school psychologist, and/or school principal has reasonable cause to believe that involvement of the parent/guardian would result in a clear and present danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the student of any age,” notification would not be required.
Proponents of the measure’s previous, unadopted form, which had no age limits on required notification, argued that if a child is in such danger at home that notification would put a child at risk, then the child already lives in a situation that requires notification to and intervention by Child Protective Services, as educators are mandated reporters legally required to report suspected child abuse.
“If it warrants the level of danger [from parents] that you’re not going to notify, as mandatory reporters, CPS will be notified,” said Jonathan Zachreson, founder of Protect Kids California, which is seeking the adoption of three ballot initiatives to set statewide transgender youth policy in sports and education. These initiatives would adopt parental notification for gender changes, prevent transgender students identified as male at birth from competing in girls’ sports, and ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and genital change surgeries for minors.
Rocklin Unified’s policy is a departure from similar parental notification policies, as instead of a standalone measure, it by adds a section solely on gender changes to its existing policy, and requires parents to be notified within three days of when their child requests to be identified as a different gender from their biological gender, requests to be called by a different name or pronouns, or requests access to sex-segregated school programs, activities and facilities that do not align with the child’s biological sex. Rocklin Unified also updated its existing anti-discrimination policy to make a parental notification exception to its requirement for privacy regarding a child’s gender identity.
“Despite our ongoing commitment to stand against any actions that target and discriminate against California’s transgender and gender-nonconforming youth, Rocklin Unified has chosen to endanger their civil rights by adopting a policy that forcibly outs them without consideration of their safety and well-being,” said Attorney General Bonta in a public statement. “I have said it before and I will say it again: We will not tolerate any policy that perpetuates discrimination, harassment, or exclusion within our educational institutions.”
The San Bernardino Superior Court recently sided with Bonta in granting a temporary restraining order until Oct. 13 for the notification policy adopted by Chino Valley Unified School District, the first school district to adopt a parental notification policy, including gender changes. The temporary restraining order does not apply to other school districts or courts.