After nearly seven hours of heated debate and public comment beginning Tuesday night, another Southern California school district implemented a parental notification policy that requires schools to disclose to parents if their child identifies as transgender.
Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD), one of the most prestigious academic districts in Southern California’s Inland Empire, voted Wednesday around 1 a.m. in a 3-2 vote to notify parents if their child identifies as a different gender than what they were born with or uses different preferred pronouns on school grounds.
Proponents and opponents of the policy packed the boardroom, with both sides addressing the board during public comments. Rainbow Pride flags and American flags sprinkled the room. The meeting was not without frequent interruptions of cheers and heckling.
TVUSD joins Murrieta Unified School District and the Chino Valley Unified School District, which also adopted parental notification policies recently.
The policy, resembling the framework of state Assembly Bill 1314, also mandates notifying parents when their children use specific school facilities that don’t align with the gender indicated on their birth certificate. This includes spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as participation in school sports programs.
‘The Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Education strives to foster trust between the District and parent(s)/guardian(s) of its students,’ the policy states. ‘To that end, the Board supports the fundamental rights of parent(s)/guardian(s) to direct the care and upbringing of their children, including the right to be informed of and involved in all aspects of their child’s education to promote the best outcomes.’
Opponents of the policy, introduced by board President Joseph Komrosky and Jen Wiersma, said during the meeting it will only cause harm to students who do not have supportive families of their preferred gender identity.
Meanwhile, parents and some former teachers argued it is the parents’ right to know sensitive information about their child.
‘It is absolutely unacceptable that we have to be here tonight to propose a policy that requires an adult to notify me as a parent regarding my child’s behavior,’ one speaker in favor of the policy said to the board. ‘Why are teachers behaving like they’re a student’s best friend?’
One speaker, who identified as a transgender student and opposed the policy, said to the board: ‘If I didn’t have a way to express myself, I probably would have succumbed to depression and unalive myself, and that is exactly what’s happening to most kids who have abusive parents who kick them out for their lifestyle choices.’
The move comes as the district has found itself at the center of a culture war in the Golden State as Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a $1.5 million fine last month to the district for rejecting a state-approved social studies curriculum involving a biography on gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Concerned parents and the board rejected the curriculum due in part to allegations of Milk having a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old boy when he was in his early 30s.
Following Chino Valley’s adoption of the policy, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he would be investigating the district for ‘potential legal violations’ this month.
‘Students should never fear going to school for simply being who they are,’ Bonta said in a news release. ‘Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity.’
This week, parents protested at the state’s Capitol against several controversial bills which they say remove their right to protect their children. And in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, parents rallied in support of such notification policies in their school districts.
The Orange Unified School District will also be considering a similar notification policy this week that would require a written notification to parents within three days after their child identifies as a different gender other than what they were born with.