California AG Doubles Down on Secret Gender Identity Policy

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta has defied a federal court order by instructing school districts to continue enabling secret gender transitions, according to the Thomas More Society, a non-profit group specializing in civil liberties cases and constitutional law.

Mr. Bonta issued the Sept. 26 memo, “Guidance Regarding Forced Disclosure Policies Concerning Gender Identity,” to school district superintendents and Boards of Education members in the wake of several court battles against secret gender transitions at schools.

On Sept. 14, Judge Roger Benitez granted a preliminary injunction against the state and the Escondido Union School District (EUSD), blocking the school district from punishing two teachers who refused to comply with guidance issued by the California Department of Education that encourages educators to conceal social gender transitions of students from their parents.

The teachers, Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, are suing the district, claiming it has violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to lie to parents about their child’s gender identity.

The court order prohibits the enforcement of the district’s policy while the case is pending and denied motions filed by the school district and California Department of Education to dismiss the case.

In his memo, Mr. Bonta cites both the Escondido case and a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of Chino Valley Unified School District’s parental notification policy, which requires school staff to inform parents if their child changes gender identity at school remains in “full force and effect,” and that the Escondido case has no bearing on it. The state’s request for a preliminary junction in the Chino Valley case is set for a court hearing on Oct. 13.

Mr. Bonta also claims that disclosing information to parents puts student safety at risk.

“Data underscore the threat posed by forced disclosure policies: only 37 percent of LGBTQ+ youth identified their home as supportive of their identity; one in ten transgender individuals have experienced violence at the hands of an immediate family member; 15 percent ran away or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender; and coming out to adverse parents has been shown to increase the risks of major depressive symptoms, suicide, homelessness, and drug use,” he stated in the memo.

The attorney general’s office did not respond to an inquiry requesting the source of the “data” cited in the memo and comment on the judge’s claim the state is portraying parents as “the enemy.”

Counter Claim

Paul Jonna, a Thomas More Society lawyer and lead attorney in the Escondido case, countered the memo in an open letter to Mr. Bonta on Sept. 27, saying it’s “deeply concerning, but unfortunately unsurprising” that the state attorney general issued the so-called ‘guidance’ in defiance of a federal court order even though the judge determined the state policy encouraging secret gender transitions at schools likely violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Californians should be deeply troubled … that this issue—hiding young children’s gender identity and social transition at school—is such a high priority for the State,” Mr. Jonna wrote. “There is no justification for Attorney General Bonta burning millions of taxpayer dollars in litigation and other resources enforcing ‘guidance’ that he now knows, and should have always known, is both unconstitutional and harmful to children.”

Mr. Jonna said that “instead of doubling down on this dangerous course of conduct,’ the state should follow the guidance of seasoned experts such as Dr. Erica Anderson, whose testimony in the Escondido case was unrebutted.

He pointed out the judge noted in the court order that Dr. Anderson explained there is not “any professional body that would endorse … policies which envision adult personnel socially transitioning a child or adolescent without evaluation of mental health professionals and without the consent of parents or over their objection.”

Dr. Anderson also testified, “there are many dangers associated with allowing young children to ‘socially transition’ without the knowledge or involvement of their parents.”

An LGBT flag at an Orange Unified School District meeting in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

‘Trifecta of Harm’

Judge Benitez states in his 36-page ruling that EUSD’s policy of elevating a child’s gender-related choices “to that of paramount importance while excluding a parent from knowing … is as foreign to federal constitutional and statutory law as it is medically unwise.”

Additionally, the judge stated: “The school’s policy is a trifecta of harm: it harms the child who needs parental guidance and possibly mental health intervention to determine if the incongruence is organic or whether it is the result of bullying, peer pressure, or a fleeting impulse. It harms the parents by depriving them of the long recognized Fourteenth Amendment right to care, guide, and make health care decisions for their children. And finally, it harms plaintiffs who are compelled to violate the parent’s rights by forcing plaintiffs to conceal information they feel is critical for the welfare of their students—violating plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”

Mr. Jonna told the Epoch Times in a recent interview that Judge Benitez described the state guidance issued as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to school districts as very misleading because it implies parental exclusion is required in the state constitution under privacy rights for children.

“They said it was non-binding guidance, but they used words like ‘required’ and ‘must’ and basically every school district interpreted it as binding,” Mr. Jonna said. “The [district] was convinced it was binding and said so at the hearing … but in fact, this was not mandatory, it was just guidance.”

According to the 233-page court transcript, the judge asked state attorneys, “Is the FAQ binding on the school district or not?” to which they reluctantly replied it isn’t and doesn’t compel school districts to enact the rule.

“The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to the American tradition,” Judge Benitez said. “Isn’t that precisely what your rules does? … It basically says that all parents are presumed to be the enemy if the child simply says, ‘I don’t want my parents to know.’”

Parental Rights Movement

Harmeet Dhillon, the CEO, and founder of the Center for American Liberty, another civil liberties law group, told The Epoch Times her organization will continue fighting in the courts against secret gender transitions in schools and the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries on minors.

Ms. Dhillon, a prominent conservative who spoke about parental rights at the California Republican Party’s fall convention in Anaheim last weekend, said there is “zero sunlight” between any of the Republican presidential candidates on the issue.

“They all support strong parental rights,” she said.

NTD Photo
Protect Kids California, a nonprofit parent and family advocacy group, holds a rally at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In 2022, she said, the California Republican Party led an organized effort encouraging parents to step up and run for school boards, and because many parents won and flipped the balance of power on several school boards, they began passing policies to protect the natural and fundamental rights to direct their children’s education recognized by the United States Supreme Court. At least seven California school boards have since adopted parental notification policies.

“Our attorney general and our governor have responded with demagoguery and threats—the governor threatening to fine school districts that try to keep pornographic books out of the hands of children … and the attorney general is suing school districts for protecting parental rights to information … with respect to gender pronouns and transgender identification of their children in the schools,” she said.

“So now, we obviously have to take this to the ballot box and pass statewide measures,” Ms. Dhillon said, referring to the recent move by parental rights coalitions to unite under an umbrella group called Protect Kids California to launch three ballot initiatives.

The initiatives call for parental notification policies, oppose biological boys playing in girls’ sports, and seek to ban so-called “gender-affirming” medical interventions on minors.

From The Epoch Times



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Las Vegas News Magazine

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