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Two More California School Districts OK Forced Outing of Trans Students

Author: Trudy Ring

Two more school districts in California have adopted a policy of outing transgender students to their parents, even though the state’s attorney general has sued another district over a similar policy and warned others.

The Orange Unified School District’s board approved its policy 4-0 Thursday night, ending “a long and contentious meeting,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Three members who opposed it walked out and didn’t vote.

It states that parents must be notified when a student seeks “to be identified as a gender other than the student’s biological sex or gender listed on the student’s birth certificate or any other official records.” This could include using a name or pronouns other than those listed or requesting access to sports teams, restrooms, and locker rooms that don’t correspond with that gender. It also would apply even if the student hasn’t taken action but has discussed the matter with a counselor.

It has an exemption for students who are 12 or older and those who would be endangered by such notification, but the reasoning behind the exemption has to be put in writing.

There was a packed audience at the meeting, with some attendees speaking for the policy, some against it. At one point, there was “a shouting match between opposing sides and a brief scuffle,” the Times reports. Security officers escorted some of the opponents, identified as members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, out of the meeting.

The Orange Unified district encompasses the city of Orange and some nearby communities in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. The area is traditionally deeply conservative, although it recently has been becoming less so. However, conservatives won on this vote.

Board President Rick Ledesma said there was a moral obligation to pass the policy. He said that otherwise students could “be told to keep a secret, and because supposedly it comes down from the state.”

“So my concern there is this child keeping a secret and, you know, potentially there’s lies being said, and this child is 12 years old … [and] is ready to change their lives forever,” he said, according to the Times.

However, nothing would keep young people from notifying their parents voluntarily; the concern about requiring notification is the risk it would pose to those whose parents are not supportive.

Karin Barone, an Orange Unified teacher, said she would not comply with the policy, TV station KTLA reports. “As a teacher, I oppose this policy,” she said. “If any student comes out to me, I will not out them. I will not do it. It’s not in their best interest.”

Parent Jennie Sloan also voiced opposition, according to KTLA. “It singles out these kids as problems, as one singular issue to be dealt with, and children in our schools are dealing with all kinds of issues,” she said. “The fact that it’s just one shows that they are targeting a specific group, which is not fair and is illegal.”

But supporters of the policy outnumbered opponents. “All we’re asking for is to please just let us know what’s happening with our kid,” Rosa Otero told the station. “I’m for this policy not because I’m against gay or LGBT. I have three LGBT people in my family, and I am very, very religious, but we just want to be notified as parents.”

Otero said at the meeting that she was outraged when her daughter’s school did not report that another girl had kissed her daughter in kindergarten, the Times reports. She said she received an apology only after calling the school six times, and she took her daughter out of the district and has been homeschooling her.

Board member Kris Erickson told her colleagues they shouldn’t act on the policy until they know the outcome of Attorney General Rob Bonta’s lawsuit against another district, Chino Unified. The San Bernardino County Superior Court Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order that blocks enforcement of Chino Unified’s forced outing policy. Enacting a similar one in Orange Unified could expose the district to costly litigation, she said.

But another board member, Madison Miner, said Orange Unified would face this risk if it didn’t adopt the policy and that students and parents could be harmed as well. “Is the teacher or counselor going to drive that student home from school and live at those kids’ homes?” Miner said, according to the Times. “Will they drive them to the doctor when they have this dysphoria? Are they going to call the ambulance if, heaven forbid, that child tries to take their own life? Are they going to pay for the funeral? … I don’t want that blood on my hands.”

Orange Unified is the sixth school district in California to enact a forced outing measure. About 24 hours before it acted, the Rocklin Unified School District, near Sacramento, saw a similar policy approved by its board. The 4-1 vote came in the wee hours of Thursday morning, after “nearly four hours of often impassioned testimony,” The Sacramento Bee reports.

The only board member who voted against the move, Michelle Sutherland, said her colleagues had “fringe political aims.” She said that as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the board had received 184 emails opposing the policy and 22 supporting it. “This is a fringe issue that’s targeting a very small and vulnerable group of our kids in Rocklin Unified,” she said.

Hundreds of attendees jammed the meeting, and among those who spoke during the public comment period, about two-thirds were against the policy and the remainder in favor of it. Despite this differential, the board OK’d it.

Bonta had warned the board about the consequences of such a vote before it took action, and Thursday he issued a statement denouncing the move. “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,” he said. “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.”

He has also objected to similar policies enacted by the Temecula, Murrieta Valley, and Anderson Unified school districts in California, in addition to his lawsuit against Chino Unified.

Pictured: A security guard and a protester at the Orange Unified meeting

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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