California AG opposes parental notification policy, ban on critical race theory

 (The Center Square) – California attorney general Rob Bonta submitted an amicus curiae supporting a lawsuit against Temecula Valley Unified School District’s policies of requiring parental…

 (The Center Square) – California attorney general Rob Bonta submitted an amicus curiae supporting a lawsuit against Temecula Valley Unified School District’s policies of requiring parental notification if a child wishes to be called by a different name or use facilities or programs not consistent with his or her gender as listed in school records, and its ban on teaching elements of critical race theory. 

TVUSD’s parental notification policy requires that schools notify parents of any injury, bullying, talks about suicide, or requests to identify with or participate in programs or use school facilities that are for a gender different from what is on their birth certificate or official records. A similar notification policy at Chino Valley Unified School District was partially blocked by a judge who ruled that while the district could continue to require notification if students wish to change information in their records, but stopped the parts of the policy requiring notification for students requesting to be identified or treated as a gender other than the student’s recorded sex, or if a child wishes to access sex-segregated school programs and activities. 

TVUSD’s ban on teaching critical race theory, which includes specific bans on teaching “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist and/or sexist, whether consciously or unconsciously,” “individuals are either a member of the oppressor class or oppressed class because of race or sex,” and “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment due to the individual’s race or sex or should receive favorable treatment due to the individual’s race or sex.” 

Meanwhile, Bonta alleges the parental notification policy violates students’ rights to equal protection and privacy under California law. 

“By singling out transgender and gender nonconforming students, Policy 5020.01’s forced disclosure provisions violate these students’ state constitutional right to equal protection and statutory protections from discrimination,” wrote Bonta. “The Policy also infringes upon students’ state constitutional right to privacy, depriving them of their fundamental ability to express who they are.” 

For the ban on teaching critical race theory, Bonta limits students’ ability to learn about a broad range of topics, and is in violation of AB 1078, which bans school boards from prohibiting materials that contain “diverse and inclusive perspectives” and defines such bans as “discrimination. 

“Because these prohibitions censor curricular materials that accurately portray the historical roles and contributions of diverse groups, and restrict discussion of current events, Resolution 21 is especially harmful for students of color,” wrote Bonta. “When school curricula do not include content that reflects the history, culture, and experience of all students, research shows that the students who are not represented suffer academically and emotionally.” 

In the justification for its ban on critical race theory, TVUSD emphasized its board has the “legal authority to determine the curriculum taught in the TVUSD within the parameters set by law” and that the “laws of the United States of America and the State of California do not require that Critical Race Theory be taught in public schools.” 

Notably, AB 1078 was a response to national controversy at TVUSD earlier this year. TVUSD initially rejected a state-approved social studies curriculum for 1st through 5th graders on the basis that including LGBTQ history in lessons for these students would require having to explain sex and gender at an “inappropriate” age. After California governor Gavin Newsom threatened to purchase the textbooks and fine the school $1.5 million, TVUSD submitted to the governor’s ultimatum.