Open Letter Responding to California Attorney General's Misleading Schools "Guidance"

September 27, 2023
Tom Ciesielka

(September 27, 2023 – San Diego, California) Parental rights are on the chopping block in California, yet the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta is thumbing his nose at the supremacy of federal law and federal courts. In a September 26 letter issued to school district superintendents and members of boards of education, titled “Guidance Regarding Forced Disclosure Policies Concerning Gender Identity,” Attorney General Bonta advises school districts to follow a state temporary restraining order issued in People v. Chino Valley Unified School District, instead of a federal preliminary injunction issued in Mirabelli & West v. Olson. Thomas More Society attorneys state that the Attorney General’s analysis is deeply flawed and misleading.

Read Thomas More Society’s full response to Attorney General Bonta’s “Guidance Regarding Forced Disclosure Policies Concerning Gender Identity,” here.

In the Thomas More Society case, Mirabelli & West v. Olson, two Escondido Union School District (EUSD) teachers sued officials with both their local school district and the California Department of Education for forcing them to lie to parents about their students’ gender dysphoria, in violation of their First Amendment rights and the Fourteenth Amendment rights of parents to direct the care, custody, and control of their children. On September 14, 2023, United States District Judge Roger Benitez granted the teachers’ motion for a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the offending school board policy and denying the state and district motions to dismiss.

Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and Partner, LiMandri and Jonna LLP, authored an open letter in response to Attorney General Bonta’s guidance letter:

“It is deeply concerning, but unfortunately unsurprising, that the State Attorney General issued a press release and ‘guidance’ in defiance of a Federal Court order—directing school districts and state officials to act in a manner that a Federal Court determined likely violates the U.S. Constitution. The State’s newly issued guidance exposes the State, School Districts, and public school employees to massive liability in the form of attorneys’ fees and damages.”

“Californians should be deeply troubled by the fact that this issue—hiding young children’s gender identity and social transition at school—is such a high priority for the State. There is no justification for Attorney General Bonta burning millions of taxpayer dollars in litigation and other resources enforcing ‘guidance’ that he now knows, and should have always known, is both unconstitutional and harmful to children.”

“Parents, teachers, and students deserve leaders that respect and follow the law—especially fundamental Constitutional rights. Thomas More Society is committed to fighting this battle in Court—up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court—until every official in the State of California and across the nation is forced to conform to the law. Unfortunately, that process will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but it’s a battle that is necessary and must be won.”

Read more about the Thomas More Society’s work to protect the rights of parents, teachers, and students in Mirabelli v. Olson, here.