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Critics of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s trangender notification policy hold signs at the school board’s Thursday, March 28, 2024 meeting. The California Department of Education ordered the district to stop enforcing the policy, according to a letter. (File photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Critics of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s trangender notification policy hold signs at the school board’s Thursday, March 28, 2024 meeting. The California Department of Education ordered the district to stop enforcing the policy, according to a letter. (File photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
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Murrieta’s school district must stop enforcing a policy that requires parents to be notified if their child identifies as transgender, the California Department of Education ordered after finding the policy discriminates against transgender youth.

The Wednesday, April 10, letter gives the five days to tell staff and students that the policy, approved in August, will not be enforced. The district has 30 days to ask the department to reconsider its findings.

Department spokesperson Scott Roark said via email that the department “is unable to comment on pending investigations.”

District spokesperson Monica Gutierrez confirmed the district received the letter but said via email that it “has not implemented the policy, hence there has been no enforcing.”

School board President Paul Diffley could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday, April 11.

Last month, the board after Superintendent Ward Andrus proposed rescinding the rules. At that meeting, the board approved a motion “to develop and approve an administrative regulation with further clarifications on implementation of the new policy,” Gutierrez said.

Murrieta’s policy mirrors those enacted by other California public school districts, including , and , that have divided communities and led to tense board meetings featuring emotional testimony.

The policy requires parents or guardians to be notified if their student asks to identify as a gender other than the “biological sex or gender listed on the student’s birth certificate or any other official records.”

Actions that would warrant notification include requests to use different names or pronouns, access athletics teams or bathrooms not aligned with the student’s biological sex or change information on records, it states.

The policy’s backers say parents have an absolute right to know what’s going on in their children’s lives. Parents’ guidance is essential, they argue, when children struggle with their gender identity, and some who support the policy claim, without evidence, the schools encourage kids to become transgender.

Critics counter that the policy violates students’ privacy and endangers children whose parents don’t accept their transgender identity. State Attorney General Rob Bonta and succeeded against it, although another lawsuit by a public interest law firm .

The letter to Murrieta schools stems from a March complaint filed by two district teachers — Jamie Goebel and Karen Poznanski.

“This policy not only violated the privacy and dignity of our students but also perpetuated harm and discrimination against + individuals and their families,” Poznanski said via email.

“As a parent and teacher in this district, deeply committed to the well-being and rights of all my students, I found myself unable to stay silent in the face of such injustice.”

The state education department’s letter concludes that the policy violates anti-discrimination rules by requiring school officials to single out transgender students.

“To further clarify, the policy mandates that sensitive, often private information, which is unique to a class of students with protected characteristics, must be disclosed by school administrators even if the student does not consent to the parent disclosure,” the letter read.

“This policy circumvents a student’s determination of when and where to share private personal information regarding gender identification and expression and it is required to be divulged without regard for the nuances of the relationship between the student and parent.”

The letter added: “These harms and risks of harm to the students, their constitutional rights of privacy and the protections afforded by California’s anti-discrimination policies are significant.”

One Temecula Valley PAC, which describes itself as being opposed to political extremism in local government, praised the education department’s letter.

“We are pleased to hear that the state of California is stepping in to correct what appears to be an irresponsible violation of state education code which has put MVUSD in jeopardy for fines, penalties and loss of funding,” PAC co-founder Jeff Pack said via email.

“The policy is a culture war, politically motivated stunt that hurts students much more than it helps and offers no educational value whatsoever, as the state said in its report.”

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