American Family News

Will Student Privacy or Parental Rights Prevail?

June 17, 2024

(American Family News)—An attorney says California lawmakers want to sow distrust in parents with a bill that would bar school employees from notifying them if their child wants to go by a new pronoun at school.

Emily Rae of Liberty Justice Center, a law firm defending Chino Valley Unified School District against California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s (D) lawsuit attempting to block the district’s parental notification policy, is not surprised.

Last year, Bonta claimed that policies like the school district’s would forcibly “out transgender students” and threaten their well-being, and parental rights advocates have been fighting an uphill battle against him and his fellow liberal Democrats since Chino became the first school district to adopt its parental notification policy.

Last week, after more than an hour of an emotional debate in which LGBTQ+ senators recounted stories about how they delayed coming out to their parents or were outed by someone else, the state Senate approved the proposal along party lines.

“They’ve made their position on the role of parents in their child’s lives very clear in that they want schools to be able to keep secrets from parents,” the attorney observes. “They want to prioritize student privacy over parental rights and the role that parents need to play in their children’s lives.”

She adds, though, that this sort of legislation (AB 1955) is also “very clearly unconstitutional,” and she notes that California, like every other state, already has a mandatory reporting law for if a teacher or school administration or counselor suspects a child is being abused or neglected.

In other words, teachers are required by law to report cases of suspected abuse to the police, who then turn those cases over to child protective services.

“Parental notification policies don’t change that,” Rae asserts.

Still, California is taking the position that parents are by default to be distrusted, when the societal default “is that parents love their children,” that they want to protect their children and make decisions for the safety and well-being of their children.

Meanwhile, Rae points out that if a student fails a test or is struggling at school, the teacher will inform the parents, regardless of whether the student wants them to.

“That’s something that parents need to be notified about, because they need to be involved in their children’s education,” the attorney insists. “This is no different.”

“The state is trying to cast doubt on the motivations of parents, and it’s ridiculous,” she says.

Liberty Justice Center’s case involving Chino is ongoing. The parties are currently in the process of briefing motions for summary judgement and motions for judgement on the pleading.

A hearing is scheduled for later this year.