California Educator

February/March 2024

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Page 37 of 59

A R E C E N T L E G A L F I L I N G has again demonstrated CTA's unwavering support of trans and nonbinary students. On Jan. 9, CTA and a coalition of other unions and associ- ations representing school employees filed an amicus brief supporting Chico Unified School District (CUSD) in a lawsuit that challenges important protections for LGBTQ+ students. The lawsuit against CUSD, Regino v. Staley, falsely alleged that a counselor pressured a student to use male pronouns after the student told the counselor they "felt like a boy." The parent who filed the lawsuit claims that parents have a constitutional right to have the school district forcibly out their student to them even when the student objects to that disclosure and feels that disclosure would impact the student's safety. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in July. The parent appealed the dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a news release announcing the amicus brief filing, CTA President David Goldberg said the lawsuit is another example of extremist attempts to erode the rights of students in public school settings, particularly students' rights to privacy, equal protection and non-discriminatory learning environments. " Trans and nonbinary youth and their families deserve to decide on their own terms when and how to have these conversations, both at home and at school," Goldberg said. " Young people thrive when they have parental support and feel safe sharing their full identities with them; but it can be harmful to force young people to share their full identities before they are ready." Goldberg added that research shows that LGBTQ+ youth who receive support and acceptance at home, school, in the doctor 's office and in local policy debates are less likely to suffer from poor mental health, including suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression. In addition, trans youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. "Our union will always stand up to protect the rights and safety of our students," he said. The brief underscores the negative impacts of these forced outing policies on students and school employees, including teachers, counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers. It also belies the false narrative that schools promote a "parental secrecy policy," when in fact professional best practices advocate for full inclusion of parents when it is safe for the student. Illegal forced outing policies, passed by a handful of districts last year, are currently being challenged in the courts for violating the rights of students and school district employees. The amicus brief was filed by CTA, the California Federation of Teachers, the Cal- ifornia Association of School Counselors, the California Association of School Psy- chologists, the California School Nurses Organization, and the California Associa- tion of School Social Workers. California Attorney General Rob Bonta led 16 attorneys general in also filing an amicus brief in support of CUSD in the same lawsuit. Several other organi- zations who support youth also filed amicus briefs in support of the district's policy: • California Department of Education • ACLU • Seven Professors of Psychology and Human Development, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights • National Center for Youth Law • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc; GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders; The Trevor Project, Inc.; PFLAG, Inc.; Equality California, Inc.; Courage California; Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance; Sacramento LGBT Community Center; Legal Services of Northern CA Amicus briefs are legal briefs filed in courts by persons who are not parties in the case, but who have a strong inter- est in the case's legal issues and its outcome. CTA Takes Action in Support of Student Rights Union files amicus brief in lawsuit challenging protections for LGBTQ+ students "Our union will always stand up to protect the rights and safety of our students." —CTA President David Goldberg 36 Advocacy

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