Fads aren’t always harmful things. Hula hoops, lava lamps, and mood rings may have set you back a few bucks, but that was the extent of it. Other fads, like the various eating disorders that plagued the country in the 1970s, were recognized as dangerous and treated as mental health problems. Today, though, another fad—becoming transgender—is considered a lifestyle choice.

Pew Research finds that 5.1 percent of adults under 30 now claim to be trans or nonbinary. In reality, though, a staggering 99.4 percent of the population lacks the physical traits that cause someone to become transgender, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute, an LGBTQ advocacy group. The 0.6 percent of the adult population who are truly gender dysphoric deserves our attention and care.

What sets the trans fad apart from most others is that it is being promoted in our public schools, some of which, as we now know, try to conceal students’ condition from parents. Some 1,040 school districts across the United States have adopted policies instructing or encouraging faculty and staff to keep students’ gender identities a secret from parents, according to Parents Defending Education. Those districts include 18,335 schools and 10,712,558 students. It should come as no surprise that 593 of these districts are in California, always ground zero for social transformation.

California is predominantly run by bullying legislators who care little about the sanctity of the family unit; parents have a hard time exerting any power on the state level. At the local school board level, however, parents can sometimes find allies. In July, Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) in San Bernardino County, with 32,000 K-12 students, got the ball rolling. The district has banned Pride flags in the classroom and now requires that school staff tell parents when a child is using a name or pronouns that don’t match the child’s sex.

California Department of Education guidance suggests that schools not alert parents if their child has determined that he or she is transgender or nonbinary—but no mandate for such a policy exists in state law. The implied message in the DOE guidance is that parental abuse is rampant, but protections are already in place for children who may be suffering such abuse. As “mandated reporters,” teachers are legally required to alert child protective services if they have reason to believe children are being abused at home. And according to the California Education Code, “Any information of a personal nature disclosed by a pupil 12 years of age or older in the process of receiving counseling from a school counselor as specified in Section 49600 is confidential.”

CVUSD’s action infuriated California Attorney General Rob Bonta. He has launched a civil rights investigation into potential legal violations by the school district. Bonta claims that the policy of informing parents if their children want different pronouns, use the opposite-sex bathroom, or have considered self-harm or suicide is “outing” the child, and that student confidentiality on these matters should be protected by state law.

In a letter to Bonta, California lawyer and assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Woodcrest) demanded that the attorney general provide a legal basis for his civil rights investigation, claiming that the action is designed to “chill the political activities of local school boards who disagree with the narrative of the ruling political party in Sacramento.” Essayli also asserted that the California DOE’s suggestion that students possess a “legally cognizable privacy interest from their parents” is not backed by “any statutory or court authority supporting its position.”

The teachers’ unions are livid over the Chino turn of events. The California Teachers Association insists that its local affiliate, Associated Chino Teachers (ACT), is “fighting back against discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ policies” recently adopted by CVUSD. As the CTA explains, “With the assistance of CTA attorneys, ACT sent a cease-and-desist notice to the district as it was considering the two new policies. Now that they have been adopted, the union has filed an Unfair Practice Charge with the California Public Employment Relations Board, stating that the Pride/Flag policy could improperly restrict union speech and that CVUSD failed to collectively bargain with ACT before enacting the new policies.” Nevertheless, some other California districts—the Murrieta School District, the Anderson Union High School District, the Temecula Valley Unified School District, and the Rocklin Unified School District—have followed Chino’s lead.

Back in the 1950s, my parents could send me off to school and safely assume that I would be taught the three R’s by people who largely shared their values. Those days are long gone. Yes, lots of educators work hard and try to give kids a balanced, agenda-free education, but far too many now have other plans. Parents around the country, including in California, are starting to take action.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images


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