Calif. AG Blasts School District for Adopting Mandatory ‘Outing’ Measure

September 15, 2023 by Dan McCue
Calif. AG Blasts School District for Adopting Mandatory ‘Outing’ Measure
California Attorney General Rob Bonta

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Friday blasted a suburban school district near the state capital for adopting a mandatory gender identity disclosure policy he contends will threaten the safety and well-being of transgender and other nonconforming students.

The Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District is located to the north and east of downtown Sacramento.

On Thursday, its school board began implementing a policy that requires 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.

The policy also requires that parents in the district be notified if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that don’t align with their sex on official records. 

The vote by the board came after Bonta sent an urgent letter to Superintendent Brad Tooker and the school board, expressing serious concern over the proposed policy and emphasizing the potential infringements on students’ equal protection, anti-discrimination, safety and privacy rights.

“Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District’s decision to adopt a forced outing policy poses a serious threat to the emotional, psychological, and physical safety and privacy of transgender and gender-nonconforming students,” Bonta said in a written statement on Friday. 

“My office is closely monitoring the decision and will not tolerate districts that target and compromise the physical, mental and emotional well-being of this vulnerable community. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue advancing the rights and protections of every student,” he said.

Research shows that protecting a transgender student’s ability to make choices about how and when to inform others is critical to their well-being, as transgender students are exposed to high levels of harassment and mistreatment at school and in their communities when those environments are not supportive of their gender identity. 

According to the attorney general’s office, one in 10 respondents to a 2014 survey said that an immediate family member had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% ran away from home or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. 

Fewer than one-in-three transgender and gender nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.

In addition, nearly 46% of transgender students reported missing at least one day of school in the preceding month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable there and 17% of transgender students reported that they left a K-12 school due to the severity of the harassment they experienced at school.

Seventy-seven percent of students known or perceived as transgender reported negative experiences such as harassment and assault, and over half of transgender and nonbinary youth reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, the survey found.

Prior to the adoption of the new notification policy, Bonta encouraged the district to adopt a far less stringent policy that he said would meet its needs while respecting students’ rights to non-discrimination, safety and privacy. 

The Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District’s adoption of a mandatory gender identity disclosure policy appears to be part of a  growing trend in California.

Just last week, Bonta issued a statement condemning the Rocklin Unified School District Board’s decision to implement a similar policy, and he’s also criticized copycat policies in at least three other districts.

Last month, he announced a lawsuit challenging the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s forced outing policy.

“My office will not tolerate districts that target and compromise the physical, mental and emotional well-being of this vulnerable community. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue advancing the rights and protections of every student,” Bonta said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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