SAN BERNARDINO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a statement following the San Bernardino Superior Court’s oral ruling from the bench issuing a preliminary injunction against Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, further halting the enforcement of the policy that is detrimental to the safety and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The provisions of the enjoined policy required schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission and even when the school district knows a student may be harmed emotionally, psychologically, or physically by the disclosure. The enjoined provisions also required notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their sex on official records. Today’s oral ruling finds that the state is likely to prevail on the merits because these forced outing policy provisions violate California’s equal protection clause and comes after the Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Board’s forced outing policy on September 6, 2023.
“I commend the San Bernardino Superior Court for reaffirming and upholding the constitutional rights and protections of transgender and gender-nonconforming students,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Today’s bench ruling is a significant step forward that will set a precedent in our efforts to ensure every student is guaranteed the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes nondiscrimination, safety, and inclusivity. Let this decision serve as a stern warning to other school districts that have passed or are contemplating similar policies: enforcing discriminatory practices will not be tolerated in our educational institutions.”
On August 28, 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced a lawsuit against the Board’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy, asserting it infringes on several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights, including:
- California’s Equal Protection Clause: The policy unlawfully discriminates and singles out students who request to identify with or use names or pronouns different from those on their birth certificates, or who access programs or facilities that, in the view of the Board, are not “aligned” with the student’s gender.
- California’s Education and Government Code: Education is a fundamental right in California, and California Education Code Sections 200 and 220 and Government Code section 11135 also ensure equal rights and opportunities for every student and prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. The policy violates these fundamental anti-discrimination protections.
- California’s constitutional right to privacy: California’s constitution expressly protects the right to “privacy,” including both “informational privacy,” and “autonomy privacy,” and the policy’s mandate to out transgender and gender-nonconforming students against their wishes or without their consent violates that right.
In an oral ruling today, Judge Michael Sachs stated that the text of provisions 1a and 1b of Chino Valley’s mandatory gender disclosure policy are facially unconstitutional as they violate the Equal Protection Clause of California’s Constitution and discriminate against transgender and gender nonconforming students. The bench ruling continues to enjoin enforcement of provision 1a, requiring parental notification when a student requests to use a different name or pronoun, and provision 1b, which requires notification when a student requests to participate in school sports or use gender segregated facilities that do not align with the gender on their birth certificate. Following the hearing, per the court’s request, the state will provide the court with a proposed order to implement the preliminary injunction.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth:
- In September, Attorney General Bonta issued guidance addressed to all California Superintendents and school board members reminding them that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the San Bernardino Superior Court against the Board’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy remained in full force and effect. The Superior Court’s ruling came after Attorney General Bonta in August announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of the Board’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing a lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta announced opening a civil rights investigation into the legality of the Board’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ privacy rights and educational opportunities.
- Attorney General Bonta issued statements following Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Rocklin Unified School District, Anderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decision to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policies targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.