The following is a copy of a letter addressed to the governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District.
I wish to draw your attention to a critical matter that concerns the well-being of our students and our educators. Requiring teachers to disclose a student’s gender identity to their parents can have unintended but potentially dangerous consequences for all parties involved.
Student Safety: By creating a policy of identify and alerting a student’s gender identity without their consent risks placing the student in a vulnerable position. This goes against the rights enshrined in the California Education Code Section 220, which explicitly ensures the right of students to attend school without “discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity and gender expression.” Outing them can lead to increased risk of trauma, anxiety, depression and even suicide, which conflicts with the code’s principles.
Educator Dilemma: Additionally, educators are bound by mandated reporting laws, such as the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (California Penal Code Section 11164 et seq.), to ensure the safety of all students. Under the legal definition in the act, child abuse includes situations where a child has been physically or emotionally harmed or is at risk of harm. Forcing a student’s transgender identity to be disclosed without their consent may fall under this definition and could be seen as a violation of their rights as outlined in California Education Code Section 220.
This places teachers in a difficult position, as they must follow the law while also respecting the rights and privacy of students.
Under these legal provisions, deliberately violating students’ rights and placing them in potentially harmful situations could be considered a form of abuse under California law, as defined in California Penal Code Section 11164.
I urge the school board to consider the best interests of our students and educators, taking into account the specific legal protections outlined in our state’s Education Code, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, and related laws. A more compassionate and balanced approach that respects the rights and privacy of all involved parties is essential. Let’s work together to ensure the safety, well-being and emotional health of our students while maintaining compliance with our mandated reporting obligations.
Diminishing the rights of one group ultimately affects us all and creates an imbalance in the dynamics of respect and trust. In order for students to learn, they need to feel safe. Respect and trust are tenets of safety. School is a place of safety, acceptance and learning. This is the call to stand firm and reinforce the obligation that the school board has to keeping school a safe learning environment for all students.
I call on the community to show up for our students, your children, and protect them from an over-reaching governing board and school-sanctioned abuse.
With optimism that the legal and respectful decision will be made.