National Review

Can Parental Rights Carry the Day in California?

September 13, 2023

(National Review)—Bipartisanship in California is rare — but mess with children anywhere, and parents will fight back. Six California school districts passed parental notification laws this summer that require schools to notify parents if a child requests a gender transition or experiences gender confusion. More districts will follow.

Even though California is one of America’s most liberal states, local governments are bucking leftwing orthodoxy at parents’ behest. Assemblyman Bill Essayli, who authored initiatives to help school boards pass parental notification policies, explained the phenomenon to National Review:

Although California is a deep-blue state, Essayli said his Democrat constituents support parental-notification policies. A clear majority of voters (84 percent) support laws that require parents to be notified of changes in a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health, according to a Rasmussen poll. Californians are even 62 percent more likely to support such a law if it includes notifying parents of a child’s gender confusion.

“This is a big issue,” Essayli said. “And it’s one that transcends politics, cultures, religion — it transcends everything.”

Still, the state’s Democratic politicians are rallying together to strike down school boards’ proposals. Attorney general Rob Bonta, who is considering a 2024 gubernatorial run, announced a lawsuit against Chino Valley’s policy last month and a district judge temporarily blocked the policy last week.

California Democrats will continue to wage war on parental notification policies. But the Liberty Justice Center represents Chino Valley School District (the district California attorney general Rob Bonta is suing for allegedly “harming” students with parental rights policies), so parents stand a good chance. Even in a state as far to the left as California, parents aren’t hip to government interference in family life — a growing nationwide sentiment that’ll be tested in 2024.


Haley Strack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism and a recent graduate of Hillsdale College.