Breaking: Brown signs
trans students bill
by Seth Hemmelgarn
California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday (August 12) signed into law Assembly Bill 1266, which is designed to ensure that transgender students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity.
Brown's action came on Trans Advocacy Day, when a number of transgender people and their allies were in Sacramento.
"It's very exciting," bill author Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said in a brief phone call to the Bay Area Reporter . "I'm flabbergasted."
The bill, known as the School Success and Opportunity Act, was signed the day before the deadline for Brown to take action.
Ammiano, a gay San Francisco Democrat, had released a statement early Monday asking the governor "to do the right thing."
"While many California school children are already protected by policies in some of our biggest school districts, other districts don't seem to understand that transgender students should have equal access to all programs and facilities," stated Ammiano.
A transgender student in Arcadia, California recently won a federal complaint based on the school district's failure to give him access to boys' facilities at his school, Ammiano's office noted. AB 1266 seeks to avoid lawsuits by specifying school districts' obligations.
The law, which is the first of its kind in the country, goes into effect January 1.
"The gender identity of these kids needs to be respected and they shouldn't have to sue to make it happen," said Ammiano.
In a news release, Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis said, "Now, every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates."
Calen Valencia, an 18-year-old transgender student from Tulare, said in the news release, "I'm so excited that California is making sure transgender students have a fair chance to graduate and succeed. I should have graduated this year, but my school refused to give me the same opportunity to succeed as other boys. Now other transgender youth won't have to choose between being themselves and graduating high school."
According to the news release, "California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students have been often discriminated against and unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities, and facilities."
The exclusion has a negative impact on students' ability to graduate. For example, TLC and other backers of AB 1266 stated, "physical education credits are required to graduate, but transgender students often do not have the support they need to fully participate in the courses."
A coalition of organizations, including Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, supported the bill.