California lets transgender students use the restroom of their gender identity

| March 10, 2017

Last week, California became the first state to require public schools to allow transgender K-12 students access to the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed bill Assembly Bill 1266 into law on August 12th. In addition to allowing transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their choosing, the law states that they will be able to participate in gender-segregated sports and other programs based on their self-perception as opposed to their birth gender.

transgender students

The new bill allows transgender students to use the sports teams and use the restrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender. From woodleywonderworks.

The bill comes as the families of transgender students have been fighting with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use, with some of these fights ending up in court.

Supporters of the bill believe it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students, while the bill’s detractors don’t seem to understand what being transgender really means. They claim that allowing students of one gender to use the facilities intended for another will violate the privacy of the non-transgender students.

A spokesman for Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the author of the bill, says such fears are unreasonable. Contrary to what the bill’s detractors seem to believe, transgender students are more interested in blending in than in drawing attention to anatomical differences. “They’re not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology,” the spokesman said.

transgender students

Gender-inclusive restrooms are one way to accommodate non-gender-conforming students. From MyDoorSign.

These same detractors might be surprised to learn that the policies put forth in AB1266 aren’t entirely new to California. San Francisco schools have a similar policy in place, and the Los Angeles Unified School District has allowed students to use the facilities that conform to their gender identities for nearly a decade with no reported problems.

Some of those against the bill are more concerned with semantics, stating that the existing laws that prohibit schools from discriminating against students based on their gender identity are sufficient and that there is no need to sign these specific protections into law.

According to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Massachusetts and Connecticut also have statewide policies granting such rights to transgender students, though California is the first to “put them into statute and require them in all school districts.”

transgender students

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly fears that students will bye “ogled” in locker rooms by members of the opposite biological sex. From Kate Ter Haar.

Since last week, one California lawmaker has already pulled his son from the public middle school he attended up until last year. In an op-ed for Conservative blog WND, Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said that under the new bill, students’ privacy rights “will be replaced by the right to be ogled.” He added, “While trying to address a concern of less than 2 percent of the population, California is now forcibly violating the rights of the other 98 percent.”

The Assemblyman does raise an excellent point: the percentage of students the law will affect is slight, so why all the controversy? Rather than creating unnecessary outrage and attempting to overturn the law as certain Conservative groups are doing, perhaps the issue should be dealt with on a case by case basis, as it had been before. The only difference now is that these transgender students and their families can rest a little easier knowing that they have the law on their side in what has always been an uphill battle for acceptance and understanding.

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