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Orange Unified School District passes parental gender notification policy

Orange Unified School District passes a gender notification policy
Orange Unified School District passes a gender notification policy 02:05

The Orange Unified School District Board of Education passed a parent gender notification policy Thursday evening, one day after a judge in San Bernardino issued a temporary restraining order against a similar policy at the Chino Valley Unified School District.

The OUSD policy mandates that parents are to be notified by a school's principal if a student chooses to identify by a different gender, name or pronoun. This makes OUSD the sixth school system in the state to adopt such a policy.

The 4-0 vote supporting the measure was made around 11:30 p.m. after a long, contentious meeting, where three of the board members who opposed the policy walked out before the final vote.

The Board of Education agenda item stated, "The Board of Education supports the fundamental rights of parent(s)/guardian(s) to be informed of and involved in all aspects of their pupil's education to promote the best outcomes."

Supporters of the policy say it's a parent's right to know, opponents say it's an invasion of a student's privacy, and the district's 26,000 students could be in danger.

During the public comment period of Thursday's meeting, one woman who opposed the policy said it's backward, harmful, and disrespectful to students. "They deserve to get to figure out who they are, and if they are not telling you as a parent who they are, that's for a reason."

Another woman who spoke in support of the policy said kids are too easily influenced by the world around them, and may just be following a hormonal high. "They might one day feel like they are a Patty instead of a Peter. But unlike eyebrows that grow back after a few weeks, breasts don't, genitals don't."

The gender notification policy was also adopted in Chino, Temecula, Murrieta, and at Shasta County's Anderson Union High School District.

Thursday night's vote came just one day after the state of California sued the Chino Valley Unified School District for a similar policy. In an email sent to OUSD board members, Attorney General Rob Bonta said he would take action to protect students' civil rights.

Bonta called the CVUSD policy a violation of a student's constitutional and civil rights. The judge hearing the case in San Bernardino ordered a temporary restraining order on the policy, raising concerns about the spirit, necessity, and safety of the policy. Hearings on the matter are to continue for one month.

Friday morning, Tony Thurmond, The State Superintendent of Public Instruction blasted Orange Unified's decision, saying the forced outing of students is dangerous and reprehensible. His full statement is below. 

"Orange Unified's decision to forcibly out students without regard for their safety and well-being is dangerous and reprehensible. These forced outing policies harm students, parents, guardians, families, and school staff. They tear at the very fabric of families by robbing them of the opportunity to build trust with one another and support LGBTQ+ youth coming out on their own terms. Students and parents — not politicians — should decide when and how to have these conversations. When students don't feel safe in school, they can't learn and succeed. Instead of spending so much time and energy attacking LGBTQ+ students, school boards should focus on creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environments in which all students can thrive. As State Superintendent of Public Instruction, my top priority will always be fighting for our students. That is what I was elected to do, and I'm going to keep that commitment to the people of California."

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