Under a newly introduced bill in California, schools would have to allow transgender students to use facilities and participate on sports teams which match their gender identity.
Although discrimination based on gender identity is already barred by state law, but backers of the bill, named AB1266, have said that some schools and districts don’t offer access to toilets and locker rooms, and sports teams which align with the identity of transgender students.
This new bill, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, would simply make it clear that the law obliges that those requirements are met, backers said.
Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Service, which is backing the bill, said: “Transgender boys are boys, and transgender girls are girls, and this bill ensures they are treated as such.”
The bill’s advocates argued that making transgender schools use a toilet which doesn’t match their gender identity can make them feel unsafe. They also said that it makes involvement in school activities much less likely.
Proponents went on to argue that the law is required because not allowing transgender students onto sports teams can create barriers to graduating, as achieving mandatory class credits could be more difficult.
A phrase included in the proposed law is that the school must provide access to facilities and activities “irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
Opponents of the bill have claimed that the proposal could lead to male and female students sharing locker rooms or showering together, and have said it is extreme, reports SFGate.
Karen England, the executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, which opposes LGBT rights, said there was no legal requirement for the determination of gender identity, and said that it leaves the school system open for abuse.
“It is solely at the discretion of their opinion of themselves,” she said. “We should not be mandating state law based on that.”
She went on to say that it is good that it is currently not specified how schools should accommodate their transgender students, because local districts could make their own determinations on the matter.
Some school districts already have policies included in the proposed state-wide bill. The Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Francisco Unified School District do.
The San Francisco policy has been in place since the early 1990s, and students who identify as a certain gender “exclusively and consistently” work with officials to ensure they are allowed access to the same activities and facilities of other students of that gender.
An official in San Francisco said there had been no problems with students claiming to be transgender when they are not, and they had received no complaints from parents.
He said the type of assistance transgender students receive is dependent on their requirements.