California passes transgender bathroom rights bill

By Kay Steiger
Thursday, July 4, 2013 13:48 EDT
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Bathroom sign (Shutterstock)
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A bill passed this week in California would make it a violation of state law to prevent K-12 schools from prohibiting a transgender students from using whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable using, according to the Associated Press.

The California Senate approved A.B. 1266 on Wednesday in a 21-9 vote. The bill alters the state’s education code so that a student is “permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” The bill was previously passed by the California Assembly and now heads to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature.

Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, who spearheaded the effort in the California Senate, told the AP, “There should be certainty that every kid has the chance to go to school and be treated equally and fairly. We know that these particular students suffer much abuse and bullying and denigration. We can’t change that overnight, but what we can do is make sure that the rules are such that they get a fair shake.”

In a statement emailed out Wednesday evening by the Transgender Law Center, 16-year-old transgender boy Ashton Lee said, “I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not. I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone.”

Transgender Law Center’s director, Ilona Turner, said in the same statement, “We’re thrilled that the Senate has passed this important legislation, and we are hopeful that the Governor will sign it into law.”

California’s largest school district, Los Angeles, implemented such a change in 2005, but A.B. 1266 extends the policy throughout the state.

In nearby Colorado, a 6-year-old transgender girl recently won the right to use the girl’s bathroom after appealing to the state’s civil rights division. And in Maine, a 16-year-old transgender girl recently learned that the state’s highest court will hear her case arguing that school officials making her use the staff bathroom instead of the girls’ bathroom violated her rights.

Arizona, however, has gone against the trend and recently proposed legislation that would ban trans students from using the “wrong” bathroom, but in June the Associated Press reported that legislators decided to shelve the legislation until next year.

["Stock Photo: Sign Of Public Toilets Wc Restroom" on Shutterstock]

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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