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By Cynthia Menzel

THE 16-YEAR -OLD STUDENT stood before the September 12 Kern County Board of Education and told their story. After they were outed to their parents, their parents kicked them out of the house.

“As you should have been!” shouted a woman from the back. The student ignored the outburst, waiting for a board member to stop the commotion that followed. When that didn’t happen, they took a breath and continued speaking: They now had nowhere to live.

The student was part of a coalition of students, parents and CTA locals, including Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association, Kern County Education Association, Kern High School Teachers Association and Kern Community College District/CCA. The coalition also includes supporters such as the Democratic Women of Kern.

Coalition members shared concerns about the policy, which would require educators to “out” students who choose to be identified as any name, nickname and/or gender that does not match enrollment records or is not of the “common” nicknames recognized by the school.

“Our students are our top priority. We will continue to work with parents to provide the highest quality public education to our students.” —RTPA President Travis Mougeotte

Ultimately the county board tabled the vote on the proposed gender disclosure policy until a legal decision is made on a similar policy in the Chino Valley Unified School District, a legal process expected to take two years.

Similar policies have been proposed in other school districts. CTA and local chapter educators say such policy endangers students, is discriminatory, promotes bullying and threatens educators by jeopardizing their teaching credentials if they violate state laws.

An outing policy was passed in Anderson Union High School District in  Shasta County in August. The Anderson Union High School Teachers Association filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge demanding the policy be rescinded.

The Rocklin Teachers Professional Association (RTPA) has asked the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to order the outing policy passed by the Rocklin Unified School District board in September be rescinded.

RTPA was denied the legal right to bargain the effects of the outing policy on teaching and learning; bargaining after the fact puts RTPA educators at a disadvantage and enables the board to benefit from unlawful, unilateral changes. RTPA is asking that the district restore the status quo by rescinding the policy entirely before the chapter agrees to bargain its effects.

RTPA has also filed an unfair labor practice charge on this issue. CTA local leaders say they will defend against any attempt to discipline educators for refusing to follow any directive that violates state law.

“Our students are our top priority,” RTPA President Travis Mougeotte said. “We appreciate and have great respect for our parents. We support all parent rights under the law. We will continue to work with our local parents to provide the highest quality public education to our students.”

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