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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Topics In the News
Governor Brown Signs Law Protecting Transgender Students
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/13/13
Last updated on: 08/13/13
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California's new law comes on the heels of six-year-old Coy Mathis' family's court victory in Colorado.

On August 12, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that requires public schools in California to allow transgender students access to sports teams, locker rooms, and bathrooms based on their gender identity regardless of their birth gender.

The law gives students the right to participate in sex-segregated sports and to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities, and facilities according to their gender identity rather than the gender indicated on their birth certificates.

The law, designated AB1266, was authored by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.

As Tom Verdin of San Jose Mercury News reports, "Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use, disagreements that have sometimes landed in court."

The bill was supported by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU of California.

Detractors, including some Republican lawmakers, said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy.

Such fears were dismissed by Carlos Alcala, spokesman for Ammiano, who said that transgender students are trying to blend in and are not trying to call attention to themselves.

"They're not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology," Alcala said.

He added, "Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it. We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position."

California's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, has had such a policy for nearly a decade, as have San Francisco schools. Other districts signed on in support of the legislation.

Statewide policies in two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, grant the same protections as AB1266, but California is the first to put them into statute.

Brown's signing AB1266 into law comes on the heels of an important ruling by the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, which found that a suburban Colorado Springs school district discriminated against a 6-year-old transgender girl by preventing her from using the girls' bathroom.

In that case, the parents of Coy Mathis filed suit after school officials at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain, Colorado said the first-grader could use restrooms in either the teachers' lounge or in the nurse's office, but not the girls' bathroom. Coy's parents feared she would be stigmatized and bullied.

Following the ruling handed down on June 24, 2013, Kathryn Mathis, the mother of the six-year-old Coy, said, "Her future will be better if we get to this place where this is nothing to be ashamed of."

The video below reports on the ruling in the Coy Mathis case.

The California bill is discussed in the following video.

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