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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit by California Parent Who Claims School District ‘Socially Transitioned’ Child Without Notifying Her

A federal judge recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by a California parent who claimed her child’s school district failed to inform her of her daughter’s desire to change her pronouns and gender identity.

Aurora Regino sued the Chico Unified School District in January, claiming school officials began “socially transitioning” her fifth-grade daughter without notifying her.

“Parents, not schools, have the right and responsibility to make major life decisions on behalf of their minor children,” Ms. Regino’s complaint (pdf) argued.

But in a ruling July 11, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez said the district’s obligation to “protect student privacy” trumped parental rights.

“The issue before this Court is not whether it is a good idea for school districts to notify parents of a minor’s gender identity and receive consent before using alternative names and pronouns, but whether the United States Constitution mandates such parental authority,” Mr. Mendez wrote. “This Court holds that it does not.”

The judge’s decision aligns with California Education Department guidance, which advises school officials not to disclose a student’s transgender status without the student’s permission.

“District staff are not directed to force students to adopt transgender identities or keep their identities secret from their parents,” Mr. Mendez wrote in the ruling. “Instead, district staff are directed to affirm a student’s expressed identity and pronouns and disclose that information only to those the student wishes, with an exception for the student’s health.”

In a statement released July 12, Chico Unified acknowledged the ruling.

“We know there are differing viewpoints as it pertains to this case,” the district stated. “Chico Unified appreciates the patience of our community as we worked through the legal process. More importantly, the resolution of this case allows Chico Unified to maintain our focus and financial resources on the education and support of the students in the [district].”

Ms. Regino’s complaint alleged that school staff did not notify her of her daughter’s desire to transition at the girl’s initial request.

The complaint further alleged that a school counselor later actively discouraged her daughter from telling her about her desire to transition.

Harmeet Dhillon, Ms. Regino’s attorney and founder of legal group Center for American Liberty, indicated her intention to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit in a July 13 Twitter post.

“Parents have a fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment to direct the upbringing of their kids—at a minimum this includes being made aware of life-changing decisions being made at school,” said a statement this week from the Center for American Liberty. “And it would certainly prohibit a school guidance counselor from actively excluding a parent from such a decision, as was the situation here. [Ms. Regino’s daughter] wanted to talk to her mom about her ‘transition,’ but her guidance counselor manipulated her into keeping her mom in the dark.”

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