In recent months, there has been a growing rift between California politicians and school boards over the issue of DEI ( diversity, equity and inclusion) curriculum, and gender policies.
Last month Governor Gavin Newsom threatened to fine the Temecula Valley Unified School District $1.5 million if it did not approve a social studies curriculum that mentions Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California.
The district had previously rejected the curriculum, citing concerns about its content, including disturbing allegations against Milk. Days after Newsom threatened the fine, the school board reversed its decision.
Also in July, the Chino Valley Unified School District held public comment on its parental notification policy that will force schools to inform parents if their child identifies as transgender.
The policy states that schools will notify parents if a student requests to use a different name or pronouns, or if they want to participate in gender-segregated activities that are different from their assigned sex at birth.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was heckled and removed after speaking in opposition to the proposed policy which was subsequently adopted.
Thurmond said that he was "disappointed" by the board's decision to approve the policy, but that he would continue to fight for the rights of transgender students.
The latest politician to get involved in overturning local school board policy is Attorney General Bonta. Bonta has launched a civil rights investigation into Chino Valley Unified School District.
“Students should never fear going to school for simply being who they are,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Chino Valley forced outing policy threatens the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ students vulnerable to harassment and potential abuse from peers and family members unaccepting of their gender identity”- a press statement read.
Parental rights regarding gender transition vary from state to state
Some feel if a child transitions at school before their parents know, it is important for the school to be supportive. The school should make sure that the child is safe from bullying and harassment.
Others argue the school should also work with the child to develop a plan for telling their parents about their gender identity.
Black Political Opinion: Kids can’t read or do math while politicians litigate gender in school policies
In 2017, 75% of Black boys in California failed to meet state reading standards. There has been minimal interim change since.
Last year a reported two-thirds of Black students could not read at grade level and in one case study, a dismal 9% of SFUSD's Black students are proficient in math.
In 2017, California was the first state to be sued on the grounds that it had denied children’s civil right to literacy under the state constitution. After initially fighting the lawsuit, the state settled the case. And yet in 800 schools, 75% of students failed to read at grade level, and the state has not recognized their plight beyond those in the settlement.-(source)
These are staggering statistics, and it raises serious concerns about the state of education for Black kids in California.
Gender policy is important in California schools, but so too is teaching reading, writing, science, and math. These subjects are essential for all academic success, which is the purpose of public schools.
There is a growing concern that schools are failing our kids by being preoccupied with culture wars and gender ideology. Some believe that this focus on controversial topics is taking away from time that should be spent on improving academics.
Maybe Attorney General Bonta should also consider suing school districts for failing to provide students with a quality education.