Students at Hart High School in Newhall walked out of class to protest a proposed policy that would require teachers and staff to report LGBTQ+ students to their parents, a policy that has created heated controversy at several other SoCal schools.
The demonstration came just hours before the William S. Hart Unified School District Board was scheduled to meet and hear opinions from the public on the issue.
While no vote on the proposed policy was set to take place Wednesday night, officials expected a high turnout at the meeting. Similar policies at school districts in Orange County, Chino and Temecula have been proposed.
The parental notification proposal prompted a walkout among students at Hart H.S., with some of the LGBTQ+ students telling KTLA that school is a safe place for them and, if passed, the policy would likely change that.
Hart High School senior, Heather Decosier, said that not all students have a safe place at home.
“Some of us have personal experiences with already being kicked out and I’m concerned that if the policy goes into place, the suicide rates will go up, the abuse rates will go up and, personally, the homeless rates will also go up,” she said.
Mason Cortina, another senior at the school, echoed his classmate’s opinion, adding that the policy is potentially dangerous.
“We need to do something because if we’re just going to sit and let it go, a lot of kids are going to get hurt or do something worse, like kill themselves,” Cortina said.
Three hours of public comment time was set aside at Wednesday night’s meeting to discuss the issue, which would require school staff to notify parents if a student is struggling with gender issues.
“I’m completely against it,” Duncan Mandel, who attended the board meeting, said. “I believe that these kids need to have trusted adults that they can confide in when they’re not ready for that big discussion at home.”
“We are entitled to our beliefs. We are entitled to raise our kids how we see fit, obviously outside of abuse and all that, but we’re here to support our children and as parents. We have the right to do so,” Jessica Enos, who is in support of the proposed policy, told KTLA’s Rick Chambers.
“There are already laws that teachers have to follow,” Salvatore Brienik, who disagrees with the policy, said. “This seems to me like a Trojan Horse just to try to find a way for parents to find out if their kids are expressing any kind of gender identity that’s not the normal that parents think they are at home.”
There were some at the meeting, though, who felt there might be a middle ground.
“Rather than the teacher keeping the secret and not letting the parents know, I think that we can come up with a compromise,” Karen Frost said.
“I believe in a parental notification policy,” Martha Aguilera said. “But I do believe that there needs to be safeguards in place for the concerns of the other side as well.”
The Hart School District is continuing to take comments via email through Thursday evening, though there is no vote for this issue slated on the coming calendar.