California Attorney General Rob Bonta has come under fire for allegedly defying a federal court order by instructing school districts to continue enabling secret gender transitions. The Thomas More Society, a non-profit organization specializing in civil liberties and constitutional law, has accused Bonta of going against a court ruling and issued a scathing critique of his actions.
Bonta’s controversial move came in the form of a memo dated September 26, titled “Guidance Regarding Forced Disclosure Policies Concerning Gender Identity.” He addressed this memo to school district superintendents and Boards of Education members in the aftermath of legal battles surrounding secret gender transitions in schools.
The legal skirmish was sparked by a September 14 decision from Judge Roger Benitez. He issued a preliminary injunction against both the state and the Escondido Union School District (EUSD), preventing the district from penalizing two teachers who refused to comply with guidance from the California Department of Education. This guidance encouraged educators to conceal the social gender transitions of students from their parents.
The two teachers, Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West have filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging that it violated their constitutional rights by compelling them to deceive parents regarding their child’s gender identity.
The court order explicitly forbids the enforcement of the district’s policy during the ongoing case and denied motions to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the school district and the California Department of Education.
In his memo, Bonta references the Escondido case and a temporary restraining order that prevents the Chino Valley Unified School District from implementing a parental notification policy. This policy mandates that school staff inform parents if their child undergoes a gender identity change at school. Bonta asserts that the restraining order remains in full force and that the Escondido case does not impact it. A preliminary junction hearing for the Chino Valley case is scheduled for October 13.
Bonta also argues in his memo that disclosing such information to parents could jeopardize student safety. He cites data to underscore the potential risks, stating that only 37 percent of LGBTQ+ youth identified their homes as supportive of their identity. Furthermore, he mentions that one in ten transgender individuals has experienced violence from an immediate family member and that adverse parental reactions can lead to depression, suicide, homelessness, and drug use.
However, the source of this data was not provided in the memo, raising questions about its credibility. Additionally, critics have accused the state of painting parents as adversaries in the process.
In response to Bonta’s memo, Paul Jonna, a lawyer with the Thomas More Society and the lead attorney in the Escondido case, penned an open letter on September 27. Jonna expressed deep concern over the attorney general’s actions, particularly given the federal court’s determination that the state’s policy promoting secret gender transitions likely violates the U.S. Constitution.
Jonna argued that there is no justification for Bonta to enforce guidance that is unconstitutional and potentially harmful to children. He highlighted expert testimony from Dr. Erica Anderson, which emphasized the dangers of allowing young children to socially transition without parental involvement or evaluation by mental health professionals.
Judge Benitez, in his ruling, criticized the state’s guidance as misleading, as it implied that parental exclusion was mandated under the state constitution’s privacy rights for children. The judge stressed the importance of recognizing parents’ constitutional right to make decisions for their children’s health and well-being.
This ongoing legal battle reflects the broader national debate surrounding parental rights and gender identity issues in schools. Groups like Protect Kids California have united to push for parental notification policies and oppose certain medical interventions on minors. The dispute highlights the complex and contentious nature of these issues and the significant legal battles that may lie ahead.