Credit: Zackary Drucker / The Gender Spectrum Collection

After an outcry from dozens of students, as well as faculty and state lawmakers, an attempt by two Chino Valley Unified school board members to challenge state law with an anti-transgender policy failed Thursday night.

The proposed resolution, voted down 3-2, would have excluded transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender. It would also have prevented them from taking physical education classes or playing intramural sports based on their identified gender. James Na — who put forth the resolution — and board member Andrew Cruz cast the only two votes in favor of the policy after a resounding display of opposition from both students and adults.

No member of the public spoke in favor of the proposal, but the failed resolution could be a harbinger of future efforts to thwart the state’s education code, officials said.

“Are you going to place guards inside the restrooms that memorize every trans kid on campus? Are you going to make us show our school IDs to see our assigned sex at birth to just use the restroom?” asked Ayala High sophomore Max Ibarra, who identified as both transgender and non-binary. “The fact of the matter is there’s no humane way to execute these changes because the very changes themselves are inhumane.”

Students also described the proposal as harmful to queer and transgender students’ mental health.

“You (would be) doing nothing more than harming your students; the comfort of cisgender students has been prioritized for too long at the expense of our community,” said student Andrew Acebedo. “Now is the time to educate our students to practice kindness, tolerance and equity; teach them to be active members of an evolving society and not concern themselves on what is involved in someone’s pants.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued a stern warning to the district Wednesday not to violate the education code. Damon Brown, special assistant at the California Attorney General’s Office, said at Thursday’s meeting that the office was prepared to litigate if the policy was passed.

The Chino Valley resolution would have defied Section 221.5(F) of California’s education code, Thurmond said, which states:

“A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

Though Na’s proposal would have included gender-neutral facilities or single-use restrooms or changing areas as well as other alternatives, the education code states those alternatives may only be offered as a matter of personal choice and not compulsion, Thurmond said.

That section of the education code was codified through the School Success and Opportunity Act — Assembly Bill 1266 — which went into effect Jan. 1, 2014. The Calvary Chapel of Chino Hills — of which Na and Cruz are members — has been behind many of the efforts to do away with these protections.

California Department of Education Chief Deputy Mary Nicely said she doesn’t doubt there will be more school boards attempting to defy the state’s education code — likely as it pertains to vaccine mandates. Nicely said Chino Valley Unified’s proposal was the first case she is aware of a district attempting to defy the state’s trans-inclusive school policies.

Still, she said, the California Department of Education will continue to enforce the law.

“We’re here to stand up for our LGBTQ students,” Nicely said.

Chino Valley Unified’s school board, in 2013, voted to oppose the bill. Na — who put forth Thursday’s failed proposal — also supported the unsuccessful effort to repeal AB 1266, the Daily Bulletin reported.

Na’s request for the policy revision was prompted by the sexual assault of a teen girl in a school bathroom in May in Loudoun County, Virginia, though that was not made clear in the resolution itself.

The sexual assault in Loudoun County erupted into a political firestorm because the assailant — a male who had previous consensual encounters with the victim and had arranged to meet her in the bathroom that day — was wearing a skirt, the Washington Post reported. Virginia Republicans and conservative media have pointed to the Loudoun County incident as a case against trans-inclusive bathroom policies, even though the district had not adopted a trans-inclusive bathroom policy at the time. The victim’s parents told the conservative news outlet the Daily Wire that the attacker was “gender fluid,” but authorities have not confirmed that and have consistently referred to him as male.

The Loudoun County incident was among the education-related topics Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin constantly raised in his final push before his Nov. 2 gubernatorial win.

Chino Valley Unified students speaking at Thursday’s meeting said the Loudoun County incident was an upsetting but isolated incident and should not be used to vilify transgender people. Rather, they said, the focus from the incident should be turned to preventing sexual assault.

Na, at the meeting, insisted that the resolution wasn’t “against anybody” but rather for student safety. He and Cruz appeared to be shaken by the outcry from the public as well as the other board members. Cruz at one point exclaimed “this is a Marxist system…” and was met with a burst of laughter from the audience; Na — in response to state officials’ warnings of the proposal’s legal repercussions — said, “I don’t have much respect for the state people … just look at the homeless problems.”

School board Vice President Christina Gagnier apologized to students at the meeting over the proposal, as well as a last-minute suggestion from Cruz to require transgender students to undergo psychological counseling and provide a doctor’s note in order to have equal access.

She called the proposal “divisive” and likened it to other school board proposals in the country that are also causing division.

“Topics are being brought up (at school board meetings) just to tear us apart, but the reason we are here is to support and protect our students,” Gagnier said.

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  1. Robert L Crawford 1 week ago1 week ago

    Parents of females students should pull their students from these schools to keep them safe.

  2. Eileen 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Seriously???
    Our culture has now been deluded into believing the absurd. God help us.

  3. Patrick Fenex 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    The State, indeed the entire nation, ("thanks to covid-19"), has had an entire year to implement the only solution that's equitable, and yes humane. It's obviously impractical, and cost prohibitive to construct restrooms for every unique transgender identity. However, the construction of "Transgender generic identity restrooms", should be able to adequately address the needs, and privacy concerns of our non-heterosexual students as well as staff. As far as our sports programs are concerned, we cannot … Read More

    The State, indeed the entire nation, (“thanks to covid-19”), has had an entire year to implement the only solution that’s equitable, and yes humane. It’s obviously impractical, and cost prohibitive to construct restrooms for every unique transgender identity. However, the construction of “Transgender generic identity restrooms”, should be able to adequately address the needs, and privacy concerns of our non-heterosexual students as well as staff. As far as our sports programs are concerned, we cannot allow students who were born male, and have had “gender reassignment surgery” or in the process of obtaining G.R.S. competing against our student body that were born heterosexual females. They need to compete against other students who have undergone a similar reassignment process.

    Replies

    • TheMorrigan 1 week ago1 week ago

      While I do not have a best size solution to the bathroom and changing room problem for trans-students, perhaps you are right, Patrick. Perhaps a unisex bathroom would work. I do not know. I'm not sure that would fix the problem or the prejudice, though. There were real problems with rape in bathrooms well before the trans-population started using them. That is a salient but disturbing fact that Na and Cruz seem to ignore in their … Read More

      While I do not have a best size solution to the bathroom and changing room problem for trans-students, perhaps you are right, Patrick. Perhaps a unisex bathroom would work. I do not know. I’m not sure that would fix the problem or the prejudice, though.

      There were real problems with rape in bathrooms well before the trans-population started using them. That is a salient but disturbing fact that Na and Cruz seem to ignore in their religious board room crusade. Denying them one bathroom or another doesn’t actually fix that problem. While it is a sad and depressing thought, the absolute worst of humanity will still see bathrooms as a place to take advantage of others.

      The problem here is with James Na and Andrew Cruz. These two have a long history of pushing their particular brand of religious craziness onto the Chino community for too long. Whether it is making the district foot the bill for the futile effort of long proselytizing prayers at board meetings (https://www.championnewspapers.com/news/article_043bddc6-8ed9-11e9-9626-036cfa721618.html) or using poorly worded Hitler analogies to prove obvious partisan talking points (https://www.dailybulletin.com/2018/09/11/chino-school-board-member-it-wasnt-hitler-that-was-bad/) or idiotic resolutions to demonstrate how much of a right arm they are of their hypocritical mega-church that advocates lying to avoid vaccine mandates (https://www.championnewspapers.com/news/article_ffae6e6e-1d5f-11ec-8222-9380e554d20c.html) or going on clearly partisan rants at board meetings with kids present (https://www.championnewspapers.com/news/article_ffae6e6e-1d5f-11ec-8222-9380e554d20c.html), these two Calvary Chapel Chino puppets need to go.

    • Dianne S. 1 week ago1 week ago

      I’m sorry, but the only solution that’s “equitable” is the one already in place: Allow students to use facilities corresponding to their gender identity. That has never caused problems in the past and it won’t cause problems in the future.

  4. Catherine Lopez 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Our country will always be divided if we force others to comply with what others see as fit instead of teaching our children to be tolerant from the beginning. Allowing the few access to all will allow all to have access. Problems will become tremendous until we teach acceptance first.