This week, the top law enforcement officer in America’s most populous state took a school district to court for the alleged crime of notifying parents when their kids claim to identify as transgender.
That school district has gone out of its way to promote mental health and suicide prevention, and it has resources devoted to helping “LGBTQIA+ youth,” but California Attorney General Rob Bonta has claimed that the parental notification policy “wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of nonconforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home.”
Yes, Bonta, a Democrat, acted as though parents are the natural enemies of their own children, and as though it is not only a school’s job to “affirm” a child’s claimed gender identity opposite his or her biological sex but to hide that intensive psychological intervention from the most important people in the child’s life.
It is no small thing to “affirm” an identity like this. Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a psychiatrist and early proponent of transgender medical interventions, explained that this kind of social transition “is a powerful psychotherapeutic intervention that radically changes outcomes” and makes it far less likely that young children will “desist” from a transgender identity.
Proclaiming a transgender identity can make a kid stand out in class and feel more popular. Abigail Shrier has exhaustively chronicled the online subculture dedicated to gender identity and medical interventions. YouTube and TikTok provide an income stream to such kids who stand out from the pack.
All of this incentivizes kids to not only adopt a transgender identity, but to undergo experimental medical interventions in confirming it. Although proponents euphemistically call these interventions “gender-affirming care,” they involve the off-label use of drugs to stall or even reverse a young person’s natural development through puberty—and that’s just the beginning.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs such as Lupron for treating gender dysphoria in children, but authorities use them to chemically castrate sex offenders.
There is no evidence that cross-sex hormones help children long term, but these hormones do pose risks such as low bone density, disfiguring acne, high blood pressure, weight gain, abnormal glucose tolerance, breast cancer, liver disease, thrombosis, and cardiovascular disease.
Even these drugs can have irreversible effects, but many kids also mutilate their own bodies further. Girls wear binders that restrict their breasts and increase their risk for various diseases.
Finally, contrary to the repeated claims of transgender advocates, many minors get the euphemistically termed “top surgery” and even “bottom surgery”—surgeries to physically remove healthy body parts.
This is no mere phantom concern. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study Wednesday estimating that 48,019 Americans underwent “gender-affirming surgeries” from 2016 to 2020, and 3,678 of them underwent surgery between ages 12 and 18.
In the study, Columbia University researchers estimated that 3,215 of these minors underwent “breast/chest surgery” and 405 of them underwent “genital surgery.”
Parents are the top natural advocates for their children, and even if they support these interventions, they should be the first to know when their son or daughter is considering such a dangerous path.
Yet Bonta is far from alone in seeking to keep parents out of the loop.
California state Sen. Scott Weiner, a Democrat, revealed the mentality behind Bona’s move. “Forcing a teacher to out a trans kid to their parents—even if the kid isn’t ready & even if it puts them at risk of harm—is dangerous & frankly, despicable,” Weiner wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
My own Virginia school district seems to echo Bonta’s claims. Even though the Old Dominion’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, issued model policies stating that “schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children” on controversial gender issues, Fairfax County Public Schools published a “Student Rights & Responsibilities” document—and a YouTube video for elementary school students—flouting parental rights.
That Fairfax County document claims that students have “the right to access restroom and locker room facilities and other non-stigmatizing accommodations that are consistent with the student’s gender identity, faith, and for any other reasons as identified in Regulation 2603.” Students also have “the right to non-disclosure of gender identity and/or sexual orientation,” and “the right to be called by chosen names and pronouns.”
The document makes no mention of parental notification or involvement.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, also a Republican, said Fairfax County parents have every right to sue the school district if its policy violates Youngkin’s state policies on parental rights.
Parental rights have a strong grounding in federal law. In 1925, the Supreme Court based these rights in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ruling that “the child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
Gender ideology has all the hallmarks of a cult, prioritizing an individual’s self-expression over biological sex and seeking to silence any criticism of this idea. It seems extremely ironic that schools bar any instruction of the Bible—a seminal text in Western civilization as well as a historical and religious volume—while embracing, whole hog, a pseudo-religion directly at odds with the basic fact that human beings are male and female.
Democrats are so insistent on pushing this ideology that they’re driving a wedge between children and their parents, who are not only their kids’ first line of defense but also the taxpayers from whom schools derive their revenue.
Bonta’s lawsuit in California may not succeed, but it represents a form of lawfare. Even if the attorney general fails, the process is the punishment. How long can a school district stand up against the full weight of California’s Justice Department?
Americans must wake up to this nefarious agenda and send schools the message that education is about ABCs, not ramming leftist orthodoxy down children’s throats.
Tyler O’Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center.”