Members of the community gathered on Sept. 20 to speak out on Clovis Unified’s newly recognized set of rules regarding students sexuality and confidentiality.
The discussion and protests regarding this topic of student versus parent rights weren’t on the agenda for the district’s board meeting, but that didn’t stop hundreds from gathering to protest and support the set of rules for teachers.
The discussion is centered on students’ sexuality and gender, and whether or not that is confidential information. The unofficial rule will lead students to be outed to their parents if any information regarding sexuality or gender is shared, or overheard, by teachers.
The public only recently became aware that unofficial guidelines like this exist, which is the cause of the sudden public interest.
Parental rights activists gathered insisting that parents have the right to be informed of any new information learned about their students gender and sexuality, while the LGBTQ+ community gathered urging CUSD to change the policy because it endangers the lives and wellbeing of queer students.
Because the discussion wasn’t on the agenda, speakers were only able to share their thoughts in public comment. Anyone who wanted to speak was allowed, given that they signed up in advance, before the meeting’s public start time at 6:30 p.m. Each speaker was only allotted two minutes and were promptly cut off by the board’s vice president if they went over. Over 85 speakers signed up, and the meeting went on past 11:20 p.m.
Clovis Unified doesn’t officially have any policies directly stating the rules that teachers must follow when given sensitive information about a student regarding sexuality and gender, and the board has stated in the past that they are waiting to see the court rulings on similar cases in California before making any official policies.
However, several teachers in CUSD have spoken out on social media about being pressured to out students to their parents.
The district has publicly stated that they are following all federal and state rules regarding the issue, but many members of the public disagree.
Jennifer Cruz, program manager at Fresno EOC’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center, spoke out about the district’s previous “gender affirming policy that was put in place before March [of 2023].”
“I want you [the board] to know that advocates have been collecting information about students who have been affected by the change to the student psych plan because it’s a violation of their student rights,” Cruz said. “There are many legal advocates working statewide to hold districts accountable who blatantly disregard California state law.”
It has not been publicly announced by authorities that CUSD is currently breaking any laws, nor have other similar legal cases happening currently within school districts in California set any precedent for whether or not the board and parents are within their legal rights.
The board has not yet announced if or when this discussion will be on the official meeting agenda, but many of the community members expressed interest and plans to return to the following meetings whether or not it will be an official agenda item.
The next meeting will be on Oct. 4, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. Meetings take place in the boardroom at 1680 David E. Cook Way in Clovis.