California's Newsom Hints at Legislative Crackdown on Parental Rights

Legislative push comes as admin has threatened school districts that want to notify parents if their child is trans or nonbinary

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
August 15, 2023

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) signaled Monday that Democratic lawmakers are crafting a last-minute legislative crackdown on school districts that alert parents if their child expresses a change in gender identity.

"I’ll be meeting with the [assembly speaker and senate leader] this evening, we’ll be discussing it," Newsom said during a speech about public school funding where he touted California as pro-parents' rights. "I know that the LGBT [legislative] caucus has some language they’re working on. I haven’t had the privilege of looking at it. It’s a work in progress."

Newsom failed to give any further details on the forthcoming proposal. His impromptu announcement was in response to a reporter who asked him to weigh in on two Southern California school districts that passed policies to notify parents if their children say they are transgender or nonbinary. Representatives for Newsom and the state's top Democratic legislators did not respond to requests for comment.

Newsom's potential legislative push comes after leaders in the administration sent a series of threats to Chino Valley Unified School District and Murrieta Valley Unified School District, the first two districts in the state to pass parental notification policies. Last week, the California Department of Justice launched a civil rights probe into Chino Valley. Attorney General Rob Bonta and state superintendent of public schools Tony Thurmond have both said the districts may be violating California law—without specifying which one.

The districts' supporters say the pending bill is a sign those threats had no legal basis.

"Isn’t it ironic that they say everything they do was legal?" said Greg Burt, director of capitol engagement for the California Family Council. "If it’s legal, why do they have to pass new laws? Maybe it’s not as legal as they claimed it was."

The bill would receive little vetting or debate, since Democrats are introducing it at the tail end of the legislative session. With legislative leaders driving the effort, it would likely clear the Democratic supermajority legislature.