Associated Chino Teachers (ACT) members are fighting back against discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ policies recently adopted by the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) Board of Education. The CVUSD Board adopted a new regulation banning the Pride and other flags and emblems from district properties, and, in a separate policy, is requiring educators to “out” trans students to their parents in writing.
With the assistance of CTA attorneys, ACT sent a cease-and-desist notice to the district as it was considering the two new policies. Now that they have been adopted, the union has filed an Unfair Practice Charge with the California Public Employment Relations Board, stating that the Pride/Flag policy could improperly restrict union speech, and that CVUSD failed to collectively bargain with ACT before enacting the new policies.
The board policies targeting LGBTQ+ students and community come after changes to the board after the last election. Despite ACT members’ hard work to elect more mainstream pro-public-education candidates, and the support for their endorsed candidates from state officials such as Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, candidates with more extreme views prevailed, including the current board president Sonja Shaw who narrowly defeated ACT’s endorsed candidate. The new board has drawn national notoriety for the policies and community members have packed board meetings to share emotional voices from all sides.
Thurmond spoke against the outing policy at the board meeting where it was adopted (Thurmond later tweeted he was forcibly removed from the meeting after Shaw launched a tirade against him and Sacramento in general). CTA President David Goldberg as well as CTA Board members and presidents from other CTA chapters showed up to support ACT and to oppose the outing policy.
ACT President Brenda Walker has been leading efforts to have the policies rescinded.
“Unfortunately, our board is creating headlines by focusing on things that don’t benefit students and that divide our community,” said Walker. “They need to rescind these harmful and divisive policies and to join us instead in focusing on things our union is fighting for, such as better support systems for special education students and recruiting and retaining quality educators for our community. Chino has already been struggling to attract teachers; the extreme views being imposed on the district and unfavorable publicity this board is garnering will only make it more difficult.”
Walker continues to check in with her members and says a clear majority strongly oppose the new rules. She hopes one of the multiple avenues being used to get the policies reversed ends with them being rescinded permanently. “Our members just want kids to be safe at school and to learn in supportive environments; they don’t want to be forced to go against state laws and policies in order to further the divisive culture war priorities of a majority of the board.”
The new policies and board makeup in Chino mirror similar situations arising in other California school districts such as Temecula. Last week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced he was launching a civil rights investigation into CVUSD’s forced gender status disclosure policy..