Bass Lake Unified declines to proceed with forced outing policy

The Bass Lake Unified School District includes several elementary and middle schools in the mountain area. In August 2023, BLUSD School board member Diane Flaherty Proposed a “Parental Notification Rights” Policy. It was read for the first time at the school board meeting on August 16, 2023.

The Policy would require that the school district notify parents/guardians within 3 days of several instances, including if “A student is requesting to be identified or treated as a gender other than the student’s biological sex”, making it a forced outing policy. We’ve previously covered the proposal letter and the policy verbiage. It was brought up again at the meeting on September 13. It was brought up a third time as an information item. I attended this meeting on Wednesday, October 11.

Roughly 35 people showed up to speak about the policy. Only about one third were opposed to the policy. Those who were in favor of it used religious reasoning, claimed that the schools were lying to parents and trying to “secretly transition” children, that not passing this policy would be a violation of their rights, that children do not have privacy rights, and that parents needed to know so that they could “help their children with any gender confusion” they had.

Listening to these comments was extremely disturbing and frustrating, as they were coming from people who were teachers, parents, and active members of the community I grew up in. 40 people emailed letters to the board for that meeting. 14 people were for the policy, 26 were opposed. After about an hour and 15 minutes of public comment, the board shared their opinions.

Three board members explained that they were opposed to this policy because of the potential legal issues they would face, and the financial burden that would accompany it. The superintendent issued a notice prior to the meeting that said the following: 

After consultation with legal counsel and further analysis of previous and existing litigation of similar policies as to what was proposed at the August 2023 meeting, it is recommended that the Board indefinitely suspend consideration of adopting a parents’ rights policy pending the outcomes of existing legal cases currently before state and federal courts and/or the creation of new legislation at the state and/or federal levels of government.

Such new law may also come in the form of a citizen vote should such legislation be proposed for ballot consideration. At the heart of this issue is the conflict between parents’ rights in their efforts to raise their child(ren) and the child’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Such issues should not be decided by local school boards, which by their very nature are meant to be apolitical bodies.

It was decided by the board that this topic be tabled indefinitely, until there is a state or federal legal precedent established for dealing with policies such as this one. The Board President made a motion to include the policy as an information item on the next meeting agenda. No one provided a second for this motion, which means it will not be added to the agenda for the next meeting and will not be discussed. 

Overall, the result was good, however, it was extremely frustrating and deeply disappointing to have to discuss policies like this in my hometown, at the schools I went to. 

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