CHINO VALLEY, Calif. (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - California Attorney General Rob Bonta is taking aim at the Chino Valley School District.
Bonta announced the state is launching a lawsuit to block a parental notification policy over gender identity that the Chino Valley School school board passed earlier this summer. Under the policy, teachers and other staff are required to notify parents if a child changes their pronouns or gender identification.
"The policy discriminates against transgender and gender non-conforming students. It violates their constitutional rights and violates their civil rights," Bonta remarked.
The policy has ignited passionate reactions on both sides.
School board president responds
Board meetings have unraveled, with angry parents and students clashing. Chino Valley’s School Board President Sonjia Shaw spoke about the attorney general’s legal challenge.
"This was just another kind of ploy to say, 'Hey, any other school districts you could possibly face a lawsuit.' But for me, I'm proud of our district. They're going to continue to put their feet in the sand and we're not going to give up. I mean, we're going to stand in the gap. We're going to continue to push back. We're not going to let the government bullies bully us in any kind of compliancy," Shaw said.
Critics of the notification policy say it poses a potential serious safety risk for children in unstable homes, but board members say they have put protections in place.
"The reason why I brought this policy forward was to put protections in place because I see people like Bonta, Newsom and Thurman, I call them the political cartel bullies. I feel like they are after our children and policies like this put safeties in place for our most vulnerable children," Shaw explained.
When asked if any LGBTQ organizations had endorsed the new policy, Shaw replied, "I wouldn't say organizations, but there's definitely people who are in that community that are supportive and behind us."
"It's not fair to the kids"
But there are many who oppose the policy, including Kristi Hirst, a mother of three kids, who also was a teacher in the Chino Valley School District for fourteen years. She now works for a nonprofit Our Schools USA.
"Educating children works best when you have engaged parents with caring teachers working together to create a safe space for all children to learn and this policy does the exact opposite of that. This policy has done nothing but make students afraid to go to school," Hirst shared.
Just like the policy itself, Chino’s parents and students are divided on their reaction to the attorney general’s lawsuit.
"Sounds like we voted for the school board. School board did what the voters wanted to do and it’s pretty clear that’s obvious. Sounds like big government coming from Sacramento doing what they do and step on the people," said Art Miranda, a parent.
"What if they’re scared to go home and tell their parents. Who knows how they’re going to react. It’s not fair to the kids," said Amanda Gonzales, another parent.