Chino Valley school district’s plan to notify parents if children are nonbinary or transgender sparks debate

Pride flags are displayed on a desk.
Pride flags are displayed in the bedroom of a high school student. The Chino Valley Unified School District plans to vote on a new policy that would require schools to notify parents of students who ask to be identified by a gender different from their birth certificate.
(Joe Lamberti / Associated Press)

The Chino Valley Unified School District is at the center of a heated debate among parents after the district proposed a policy to require teachers and school staff to notify parents if their children are gender-nonconforming or transgender

The school board members who support the policy claim it would inform parents about their child’s mental health, but opponents call the proposal an invasion of privacy and an attempt to intimidate students in the LGBTQ+ community.

Chino Valley’s proposed policy change comes at a time when violent protests have erupted outside school board meetings elsewhere over issues such as whether a district should recognize Pride Month or whether students can read about LGBTQ+ historical figures. Vandals burned a transgender flag at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood last month and a fight erupted among protesters outside the school during a Pride Day assembly.


The Chino Valley board introduced the policy mandate during a raucous, 3½-hour public meeting Thursday where members of the public shouted each other down. Some people waived rainbow and transgender flags, while one person carried a large American flag over his shoulder.

The board introduced the measure on Thursday but put off a final vote until July.

Board President Sonja Shaw, who introduced the proposal, repeatedly warned audience members to not disrupt the meeting and then had several people ejected. In a Facebook post, Shaw said she introduced the resolution to stand with parents and guardians.

“It’s wrong to also put our teachers in the position to lie and keep secrets!! School should not be a secret place and should never take the place of the family nor should it ever take the decisions away from the parents,” Shaw wrote in the post.

In April, the board supported Assembly Bill 1314, which was introduced by Assemblymember Bill Essayli (R-Riverside). The legislation would have forced California school districts to notify parents that their child is gender-nonconforming or transgender. Essayli claimed the proposed law would address school districts that recognized a child’s preferred gender without their parent’s knowledge.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for schools to keep parents in the dark,” Essayli told KTTV-TV News shortly before his bill failed to make it out of committee.

The Chino Valley district’s proposed policy is modeled after the Assembly bill.

The proposed mandate would require school staff to notify parents within three days if a student asks to be identified by a gender that is not listed on their birth certificate. That includes if a student asks to be called a different name or a preferred pronoun that is not listed on official school records.


The district also wants parents to be notified if a student attempts to use a bathroom that does not align with their listed gender in the school’s records or if the student attempts to play on a sports team that is segregated to a different gender, according to the proposed policy. Parents would also be notified if a student requests to change any information listed on their records.

Chino Hills resident Ravi Kapila said the bill would essentially out LGBTQ+ students to their parents.

“I don’t understand what good can come from this. In fact, all it can do is really put kids’ lives at risk and put another responsibility to our overburdened school staff,” Kapila said during the meeting’s public comment period.

Ashley Peters, whose child attends a district school, said she worries that if the district outs a student, the school will not know how the student’s family will respond.

“Being trans is not harmful,” Peters said. “Parents asserting their right to know about requests made by their students at school assumes that being trans is harmful.”

Brenda Walker, president of the Associated Chino Teachers union, said the policy would have a negative effect on students and staff.


Parent Caity Martinez supported the proposed policy.

“All these kids that can’t sit here respectfully is a reflection on our teachers teaching them the wrong stuff,” Martinez said.

Others supported the proposed policy and commended the board for giving more agency to parents. A parent, who identified herself only as Crystal, thanked the board for focusing on bullying among students in the new resolution.

Judy McDaniels, who raised her children in the school district, also supported the policy for involving parents in their students’ academic careers.

“The minute you start hiding and use deceit to keep things from parents, it’s not a solution and you’re going down a slippery slope,” McDaniels said.

This is not the first time the school board has brought attention to transgender issues.

In November 2021, the Chino Hills board introduced a resolution that would restrict transgender students to using only restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates.

The resolution was introduced by then-board trustee James Na and supported by board member Andrew Cruz. California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond warned the school district that the resolution was against the law. Na claimed the resolution was proposed because of alleged sexual assault in a high school bathroom but the proposed policy was defeated in a 3-2 vote.


The school board also took up the issue of whether any flags other than the American flag could be displayed on campus. The majority of public comments centered around the display of the rainbow flag, also known as the gay pride flag, in the district’s schools. The board banned the display of any flags other than American flags in a 4-1 vote.

Chino Hills High School senior Estefania Hernandez said the board’s policies were discouraging and made her feel unsafe on campus.

“Pride flags provide a symbol of hope and safety,” Hernandez said. “It is a reminder we are not alone in our struggle. Don’t take this away. Just like American flag symbolizes something for you guys, [the Pride flag] symbolizes hope for us. School should be a place where I feel safe and free to be myself.”