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AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, hit Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk on Aug. 1, starting a 12-day period for Brown to sign or veto the bill to give transgender students full access to...
By Karen Ocamb
August 12, 2013 :: 5:15 PM
BREAKING UPDATE: Matthew Bajko just reported that Gov. Brown has signed AB 1266. Here’s his tweet:
This is the first bill of its kind in the nation. Openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Perez had this reaction:
“I am very pleased the Governor has signed this historic legislation ensuring strong protections for California’s transgender students. This is a powerful affirmation of basic human dignity, and puts California at the forefront of leadership on transgender rights. Young transgender Californians should be treated with dignity and respect, and recognized for who they truly are.”
Here’s the press release from bill co-sponsor Equality California, speaking for NCLR, ACLU, GSA and others:
Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs and facilities that match their gender identity.
“Student success depends on safe and supportive environments, and AB1266 ensures that our transgender youth are given the opportunities they need to thrive,” said John O’Connor, executive director of Equality California. “We commend Governor Brown for standing up for transgender equality, as well as the elected officials, advocates and transgender youth who have demonstrated inspirational leadership to ensure this bill’s passage.”
“I’m so excited that California is making sure transgender students have a fair chance to graduate and succeed,” said Calen Valencia, an 18-year-old transgender student from Tulare. “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.”
Co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins, the bill is backed by a coalition of leading organizations, including Equality California, Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Gender Spectrum, ACLU of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and dozens of other organizations.
The new law builds on a national movement to end discriminatory practices and ensure transgender youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other students. Massachusetts and Colorado have statewide policies in line with AB 1266, and the Colorado and Maine state human rights commissions have held that state law requires schools to respect students’ gender identity. Additionally, many school districts across the country have adopted policies that ensure no student is left out, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school district.
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. This exclusion negatively impacts students’ ability to succeed in school and graduate with their class. For example, physical education credits are required to graduate, but transgender students often do not have the support they need to fully participate in the courses.
The sponsoring organizations are truly appreciative of Gov. Brown’s efforts to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians and ensure all students have the opportunity to excel in our public education system. From his support to ban harmful sexual orientation change efforts to his leadership on marriage equality to his signing of AB 1266, Gov. Brown has sent a powerful message to LGBT youth letting them know their state and their government fully support them. In so doing, he is not only changing, but also saving, lives.
AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, hit Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk on Aug. 1, starting a 12-day period for Brown to sign or veto the bill to give transgender students full access to student activities and facilities. With Brown’s tendency to sign bills over the weekend, that would mean the deadline would be tomorrow, Aug. 13. Counting only work days, however, Brown has until Monday, Aug. 19.
But the pushback from the anti-LGBT Religious Right is heating up in the meantime, with Karen England of Capitol Resources Institute calling AB 1126 the “Bathroom” bill, as well as a full court press, so to speak, from Breitbart.com and Fox News. This is from Todd Starnes:
“AB 1266 forces San Francisco values on all California schools,” said Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute. “This is a very radical idea. You’re going to have first-grade boys going to the restroom next to first-grade girls without any supervision.”
England said the bill would allow students of any gender to access public school bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. It would also allow students to participate in sports activities based on “that student’s assertion that he or she identifies as having a different private sense of their own gender regardless of their biological gender at birth.” …
England called the proposed law radical and extreme.
“It’s a big deal when you are mandating that every single public school in California allow opposite gender boys and girls into the boys and girls locker rooms and restrooms,” she said. “Just because a boy wakes up one day and says he believes he’s a girl—they shouldn’t be allowed access to the girls locker room.”
Peter Sprigg, with the Family Research Council, said the proposed law is trying to affirm a falsehood.
“It’s being demanded that we affirm that a man can become a woman and a woman can become a man,” he said. “Even though the chromosomes and every sing cell in their body will never change. This is an absurdity.”
Sprigg said it was especially troubling that advocates are using children to push an agenda.
“It’s one thing for an adult to decide they want to be the opposite sex,” he said. ‘But for us to allow children to make these life-altering decisions—and even affirm and celebrate that—is particularly alarming.”