Debates about the rights of transgender individuals continuously make headlines. Where do parental rights begin? What amount of authority should a school have?
A school board in California decided to take a controversial stand—they would fight for parental rights over that of student privacy. They promoted a policy where schools would have to tell parents if their child showed signs of being transgender.
A state official attended the school board meeting to protest the policy, which he perceived as harmful to children but was promptly thrown out.
While transgender rights have gained traction in recent years, this incident raises an important question: at what point do these rights cross the line and infringe upon the rights of others?
Invited to Speak on Behalf of Students
The California State Superintendent, Tony Thurmond, claimed he was invited to the meeting to speak on behalf of LGBTQ students.
The meeting involved the school board of the Chino Valley Unified School District and their new policy, which would force schools to “out” students to their parents.
Things like wanting to be called by a different name or addressed with different pronouns would get reported back to parents.
Thurmond spoke out against this policy, urging the board to reconsider. He stated that half of LGBTQ youth commit suicide and that policies like this could cause far more harm than good.
Shutting Down Claims
The leader of the meeting and school board president, Sonja Shaw, shut down Thurmond’s assessment. She shouted that his agenda would “p*rvert children” and told him, “We will not be bullied in Chino”.
The situation continued to escalate. Shaw told the Superintendent multiple times to sit down, reminding the official that it was “not [his] meeting”. Parents in the crowd cheered Shaw on. When the Superintendent continued to push for time, Shaw had security escort him out of the building.
Tonight I went to a school board meeting to stand up for LGBTQ+ students who invited me to join them as they spoke out against a radical new policy that threatens their safety. When done speaking,the board president verbally attacked me an instructed the police to remove me.(1/5)— Tony Thurmond (@TonyThurmond) July 21, 2023
Where Should We Draw The Line?
This debate over privacy raises an important question about the rights of transgender individuals versus the rights of others. While no parent wants harm to befall their kids, should schools be allowed to decide what constitutes harm? At what point do young people get to decide for themselves who they want to be?
Is Thurmond’s point about safety considered valid? In some instances, it may be more dangerous to tell a child’s family—especially if that family is conservative—about the child’s gender identity. However, the reverse is also true. Parents have the right to know about their child’s mental health and what goes on at school.
It’s moments like these that emphasize the importance of political decisions. Politics affects people’s day-to-day lives. These policies may be the difference between whether or not marginalized students can feel safe and accepted in their educational environment.
Parents Shared Their Opinions on The Matter
Parents online weighed in on the debate. Many sided with the Chino Valley school board.
“The ‘privacy’ of my minor children ends at my name on their birth certificate – period. As the parent, I get to decide what their privacy will be, not the state,” one parent wrote.
“What the Superintendent Thurmond forgets is that parent(s) are still legal custodians of their children until they are 18 years old, legally get married before their 18th birthday, or apply for emancipation status from their parent(s).”
Another parent chimed in. “When they turn 18, then they will have more individual rights, responsibilities, and independence. It’s hard to believe that Superintendent Thurman fails to grasp these facts when he is the one in charge of California’s Public Schools. However, since he appears to be pushing that Woke agenda, those facts wouldn’t matter to him.”
The School Stood It’s Ground
The Chino Valley Unified School District policy did pass, though it was challenged and resulted in a lawsuit against the district.
Despite the lawsuit, Shaw said, “We will stand our ground and protect our children with all we can because we are not breaking the law. Parents have a constitutional right in the upbringing of their children. Period.”
Update: Superior Court Judge Blocks The Policy
The Chino Valley Unified School District’s controversial policy, which opponents say forces teachers to disclose information about transgender students to their parents, has been blocked by a superior court judge in San Bernardino County.
The judge granted a preliminary injunction against the district, stating that the policy is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it specifically targets the transgender community. He also noted that the board did not consider any gender-neutral alternatives when enacting the policy.
The parental notification policy has three main provisions: requiring notifications if a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from their biological sex, if they access sex-segregated activities or bathrooms that do not align with their biological sex, and if they request to change any information in official or unofficial records.
The judge’s order blocks the first two provisions but allows the third one to remain. Both sides will reconvene in court in February for further proceedings.
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This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.