Tony Thurmond, California’s state superintendent of schools, was ousted from a contentious Chino Valley Unified School District board meeting on Thursday night over his objections to a policy requiring teachers to inform parents about students identifying as transgender. Amid heated exchanges with district official Sonja Shaw, Thurmond was urged by the public to “leave our kids alone.”
In his argument, Thurmond referenced the statistic that “nearly half of students who identify as being LGBTQ+ are considering suicide,” cautioning the board that their proposed policy may breach privacy laws and put vulnerable students at risk. However, his speech was cut short by Shaw, who argued Thurmond had overstepped his allotted time.
Shaw was outspoken in her criticisms, squarely blaming Thurmond for the controversy facing the district. “You’re in Sacramento proposing things that pervert children…You are the very reason we are in this,” she retorted. When Thurmond attempted to interject, Shaw curtly rebuffed him, saying “No order, this is not your meeting…please sit.”
The meeting reached a crescendo when school safety officers escorted him out after exceeding his one-minute speaking slot. Chants of “leave our kids alone” echoed as he left.
The policy at the heart of this dispute, mandating schools to notify parents when students identify as transgender or seek gender-based facility access or pronoun changes inconsistent with their assigned gender at birth, was approved with a 4-1 vote by the board.
Following the meeting, Thurmond alleged that Shaw had “verbally attacked” him and labeled the school board as “extremists”. He expressed concern over how ordinary parents and students could voice their concerns if even he, as superintendent, was silenced.