Bonta opens investigation into Chino Valley school district policy to notify parents about LGBTQ+ students

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said he's opening a civil rights investigation into the Chino Valley Unified School District.
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced he was opening a civil rights investigation into the Chino Valley Unified School District for its parent notification policy he believes illegally “outs” transgender students.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Since mid-July, California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta warned that a policy adopted by the Chino Valley Unified School District to force employees to “out” students who may be transitioning genders is likely illegal and threatens the safety of LGBTQ+ students.

One provision calls upon district staff to inform parents within three days when it’s discovered a student is “requesting to be identified or treated” as another gender, uses facilities, such as bathrooms, designated for a gender other than their own, or asks to change their school records.

On Friday, the attorney general moved past rhetoric and declared he was opening a civil rights investigation into the district.


“Today’s announcement stresses our commitment to challenging school policies that target and seek to discriminate against California’s most vulnerable communities,” Bonta said in a statement Friday. “California will not stand for violations of our students’ civil rights.”

Bonta’s office did not immediately respond to a call asking for more details.

But in July, Bonta wrote a three-page letter to Norman Enfield, the district superintendent, and board members, warning that the policy’s intent to inform parents without a transgender student’s permission likely violated California’s antidiscrimination law.

Bonta wrote that “transgender identity is an excruciatingly private and intimate detail about oneself and is thus protected by the right to privacy.”

Aside from the policy’s legality, Bonta wrote that the “forced outing of students to their parents is very likely to result in significant emotional, mental, and even physical harm.”

The Chino Valley Unified School District’s plan to notify parents if their children are nonbinary or transgender sparks debate.

June 16, 2023

Bonta’s pushback comes after a spate of violent protests and disruptions have taken place at school meetings regarding LGBTQ+ issues.

Police made arrests outside a Glendale Unified School meeting in June during a clash over Pride Month; a fight broke out during a protest at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood involving a Pride assembly; and a verbal battle heated up between Gov. Newsom and the Temecula Valley Unified School District over the removal of a book that included mention of gay civil rights icon Harvey Milk.


Bonta’s investigation is a response to the Chino Valley Union Board of Education’s 4-1 vote at a July 20 meeting to enact the policy as a way “to maintain and, in some cases, restore trust between school districts” and parents, according to the policy’s wording.

While the policy included guidelines for helping students and parents address physical harm, suicide, bullying and mental health, among several issues, the notification clause caused a firestorm.

The raucous four-hour meeting on July 20 included impassioned speeches for and against the policy and included a moment when board President Sonja Shaw asked Tony Thurmond, California superintendent of public instruction, to “please sit” when he tried to refute her point of order and sought to explain the dangers transgender children face.

“You’re in Sacramento proposing things that pervert children,” Shaw shouted at Thurmond after he completed his allotted one minute of public comment. She accused him of blackmailing and bullying school district leaders who supported the proposal.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond spoke in support of transgender student rights at Chino Valley Unified school board meeting.

July 21, 2023

The Williams Institute, a UCLA Law School think tank, estimated in June 2022 that 1.5 million people 13 or older identify as transgender. The institute also said that nearly one in five are between the ages of 13 and 17.

In another study, the think tank wrote that transgender people “are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.”