Chino school district’s ‘forced outing’ policy: Student safety at risk?

Written by Amy Ta and Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Brian Hardzinski

A person on a green courtyard holds a sign saying “respect gender diversity.” Photo by Shutterstock.

Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday announced that California is suing the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) in the Inland Empire. He wants a judge to end the district’s mandatory policy that staff inform parents — even without students’ consent — when their child changes their gender identity or pronouns, or uses campus facilities that don’t align with the gender on their birth records. It’s the latest in the ongoing clash between parental rights vs. student privacy. 

So far, at least three other school districts have adopted similar policies, including Murrieta Valley, Temecula Valley, and the Anderson Union High School in Northern California. 

Many parents feel like they should know if their kids are going through a gender transition, as CalMatters K-12 Reporter Carolyn Jones explains. Meanwhile, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, and civil rights advocates say the policy could put students in danger. Tony Thurmond, California’s superintendent of public instruction, also opposes the policy. 

Jones points out that in 2015, the U.S. Trans Survey found that at least 10% of transgender people reported that they faced violence from family members. 

She adds that before alerting parents, CVUSD officials say they ask students if doing so might cause harm, and if yes, then they’d contact Child Protective Services or local law enforcement, who’d then investigate. “Then once that investigation is resolved, then the school would proceed or not proceed to inform the parents. So they say in that sense, it is legal. And school staff are still mandated reporters … and they are, in fact, protecting students who might be in danger.”

Since the district enacted this policy last month, school board members have said nothing bad happened after parents were informed. 

Broadly, as the U.S. heads toward another presidential election, Jones predicts more conservative areas will push back against California’s left-leaning politicians, especially at the local school board level. 

“There's some degree of political theater in all this. I think both sides score political points. … Also, what happened yesterday is a parent group filed to place three initiatives on the fall ballot that would limit the rights of transgender students. So I think that we're going to see these things escalate as we head into the next year or so.”

She adds, “It does call into question what the state's role is in reeling in these districts that they say have run afoul of the state civil rights laws.”



  • Carolyn Jones - reporter who covers K-12 education for CalMatters