The latest battlefront in the culture wars unfolded Thursday night at the Orange Unified School District Board meeting where officials voted to approve a controversial parent notification policy regarding transgender students.
After a deeply divisive evening, with vocal opposition and support for the parental notification policy, the vote was still underway late into the night.
The final vote came in just before midnight with the majority of the board voting in favor of the new policy. Three of the board members were absent from the vote.
Cheers could be heard from those in attendance when the final approval of the policy was announced.
The new policy requires schools in the district to notify parents if their child requests to be identified or treated as a gender other than what’s listed on their birth certificate. The policy would include requests to use pronouns that don’t align with their biological sex or gender or a name different from their legal name. Additionally, parents would be notified if a student asks to use a restroom or changing facility of a gender different than the one listed on their official paperwork.
Rosa Otero, a parent who supports the policy, believes that parents have a right to know.
“All we’re asking for is to please just let us know what’s happening with our kid,” she told KTLA. “I’m for this policy not because I’m against gay or LGBT. I have three LGBT people in my family, and I am very, very religious, but we just want to be notified as parents.”
On the opposite side of the issue, Jennie Sloan is a parent who opposes the policy, saying it is deeply flawed.
“It singles out these kids as problems, as one singular issue to be dealt with, and children in our schools are dealing with all kinds of issues,” she said. “The fact that it’s just one shows that they are targeting a specific group, which is not fair and is illegal.”
The district’s vote comes just one day after a San Bernardino County superior court judge granted a temporary restraining order halting a similar notification policy in Chino Valley, and a week after California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of the policy, describing it as forcibly outing LGBTQ+ students.
Karin Barone, a teacher in the Orange Unified School District, agrees with Bonta’s sentiment.
“As a teacher, I oppose this policy,” she said. “If any student comes out to me, I will not out them. I will not do it. It’s not in their best interest.”
Others feel like failing to notify parents about issues with their children is a step too far.
“The parents have the right to know because then they can have discussions as a family and then they can go forward as a family instead of the parents being in the dark,” Orange resident Patricia Cabada said.
There have been questions about what the policy would look like in practice.
A version of the policy posted online by the district said that students who identify as a gender other than the one listed on their birth certificate would first be referred to a school psychologist or counselor.
The principal of the school would then notify parents within five days. However, KTLA has also seen a draft of the policy that removed some of that language.