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California transgender students given access to opposite-sex programs

August 12, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown, shown earlier this year, on Monday signed legislation allowing students in California schools to compete on sports teams and use facilities, including restrooms, based on their gender identity.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, shown earlier this year, on Monday signed… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation allowing students in California schools to compete on sports teams and use facilities, including restrooms, based on their gender identity, regardless of whether they are listed as male or female in official campus records.

The legislation is aimed at all sex-segregated school programs and facilities, allowing girls who identify themselves as boys to join boys’ teams and vice versa.

“All students should have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in school,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said he was "terrifically pleased" that the governor signed his bill, which he introduced to reduce bullying in schools and help transgender students feel more comfortable on campuses.

“While many California schoolchildren 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,” Ammiano said Monday.

He noted that a transgender student in Arcadia recently won a federal complaint based on the school district’s failure to give him access to boys’ facilities at his school.

But Republicans opposed AB 1266, saying it infringes on the privacy rights of students, including girls who might not want biological boys sharing their showers and changing rooms.

Some opponents said the law might be exploited -- for instance, by boys who want a competitive advantage by joining the girls’ swim team. But supporters of the measure say the Los Angeles Unified School District has had a similar policy in place for eight years without problems.

“The vast majority of California students who do not identify as transgender have a reasonable privacy expectation that they will not be forced to undress or share bathroom, locker room, shower and sleeping facilities with members of the opposite biological sex,” said Matthew B. McReynolds, staff attorney for the Pacific Justice Institute.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Melanie Mason contributed to this blog post.

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