At least two Chino Valley Unified high school students have been disciplined as tensions mount over California’s law that will allow students access to programs and facilities based on the gender they identify themselves as.
“One of the girls was handing (a flier) to my math teacher,” Prewett said. “They were discussing the different circumstances of what was going on and what they believed was happening.”
Fliers were posted around campus, warning of AB 1266’s pending implementation on Jan. 1.
“They would say stuff in bold, ‘WARNING: YOUR PRIVACY IS AT RISK’ and in the flier it would have information about these ideas that basically any boys and girls could use either rest room or locker room at their convenience,” Prewett said.
On at least one occasion, adults gathered outside school to pass out fliers and hold up signs warning about the law, he said.
In mid-October, Prewett found a boy’s bathroom locked at a time when he needed to wash his hands.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I was waiting for my friends so I could walk back with them and they informed me that there were no girls in the girls bathroom other than them and they suggested I wash my hands in there really quick,” Prewett said. “I went in and washed my hands and we noticed a big poster on the girls bathroom wall, on one of the mirrors in front of the sinks, that asked people’s opinion on the new law.”
According to school board policy, students are allowed to distribute fliers on and off campus, including political fliers.
“Then my friend Julia said, ‘Jeremy let me take a picture of you real quick’ because she thought it was funny. And she took the picture,” Prewett said. “Then, as we were walking out a couple of girls saw us and obviously they took offense, or they were concerned and they called their parents.”
School officials had previously approved the posting of fliers opposing AB 1266, but Prewett and another male student disciplined in what Prewett said is an unconnected incident, were told that school officials believed they were participating in pre-planned “acts of civil disobedience” responding to the debate.
“They said this wasn’t just a simple act of walking into a bathroom, that this was just an act of civil disobedience,” said Mike Carpenter, Prewett’s stepfather.
In addition to being sent home for the day when they were initially called into the office over the incident, Prewett was also banned from extracurricular activities between the time of the incident and his disciplinary hearing Wednesday morning. That cost him his spot in the school play as a result, along with a spot in the next play, as auditions occurred during his activities blackout. The ban was excessive, Prewett and his stepfather said.
“Yeah, I don’t think I should have gone into the girl’s bathroom, I should have talked to a teacher or used a teacher bathroom, but I don’t think I did something terribly wrong,” Prewett said.
District officials would not comment on Prewett’s case, citing student confidentiality.
“Student discipline matters are confidential, so I am sorry that I would not be able to go into detail,” Chino Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Julie Gobin said Wednesday. “AB 1266 takes effect on January 1, 2014, and is not yet applicable to our schools.”
Prewett and three fellow students are once again allowed to participate in extracurricular activities again, his stepfather said Wednesday, but that privilege will be revoked if there are any further incidents.
“I think it’s because of parents’ reactions,” Prewett said. “I remember my principal told me that the superintendent of the district got involved and he’s upset with her.”