What are the Rights of Transgender Students in California?

Effective January 1, 2014, transgender students in kindergarten through the 12th grade must be accommodated.  The new law prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of gender, gender identity and/or gender expression. This means public school students must be allowed to play on sports teams, participate in extracurricular activities and choose which bathrooms and locker rooms they want to use based upon their gender identity and not their biological sex. California is the first state to pass such a law.

Opponents of the law claim they have collected enough signatures for an initiative that would be up to the voters to decide in November, 2014 whether to repeal the law. If that number when counted in the next week or so is reached, the law will be suspended in the interim. They contend it violates the sensitivities and rights of privacy of the vast majority of students for a tiny few. In addition, they assert the new law could easily be abused since it does not require a transgender student to have an established history, but it would allow anyone to summarily and suddenly claim they are a girl to use the girl’s facilities (and vice versa).

The proponents of the new law have argued, and the state legislature and Governor either expressly or impliedly agreed, there should be no distinction between boys and girls activities, bathrooms and/or locker rooms, as they only serve to discriminate against and, therefore, alienate transgender students.

The California School Boards Association contends existing state and federal anti-discrimination laws mandate such policies and practices even if the new law is repealed, and since 2003 school districts have decided on a case-by-case basis whether and how to accommodate transgender students.

On August 12, 2013, Assembly Bill 1266, Chapter 85 was signed into law by Governor Brown. The complete text of the law can be read by clicking the following link:  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1266