Cloverdale Unified School District has hidden policy to keep gender identity of students secret from parents


A concerned community member reached out to Parents Defending Education regarding Cloverdale Unified School District having a policy (that is not public) that states staff can keep the gender identity of students a secret from parents. PDE obtained an email that the former superintendent of the district sent to staff on April 28, 2022. Regarding the gender identity of students, the superintendent at the time stated:

This is a privacy right that belongs to the student. In fact, while parent involvement on a “support team” for the student (as outlined in many districts’ BP/AR 5145.3) is ideal and encouraged, the school cannot “out” a student to their own parents. The student gets to self-determine. There can even be situations where the student has two ID cards, etc.- one with their given name and one with their chosen name that corresponds to their gender identity. This can be an issue of safety for many students in their home environment.

The former superintendent continued to explain that “the student can choose whether to have their chosen name and pronouns used in all situations” and that “the decision should be made by the student.”

The following “Legal Update” document was attached to the superintendent’s email and is dated April 18, 2022. The document states that students can participate in school activities according to their preferred gender and that “there is no threshold step for social transition that any student must meet in order to have his or her gender identity recognized and respected by a school.” This document then states that the gender identity of students should be kept a secret from parents:

A transgender or gender nonconforming student may not express their gender identity openly in all contexts, including at home. Revealing a student’s gender identity or expression to others may compromise the student’s safety. Thus, preserving a student’s privacy is of the utmost importance.

In order to ensure the gender identity of students is kept a secret from parents, the document recommends “that schools keep records that reflect a transgender student’s birth name and assigned sex (e.g., copy of the birth certificate) apart from the student’s school records.” The document then adds: “Schools should consider placing physical documents in a locked file cabinet in the principal’s or nurse’s office.”

District staff are also mandated to use the preferred pronouns of students: “To ensure that transgender students have equal access to the programs and activities provided by the school, all members of the school community must use a transgender student’s chosen name and pronouns.” If a teacher refuses to use a student’s preferred pronouns, the document explains this should be considered “harassment.”