Similar policies have already been implemented in some school districts across the country. However, the AB 1266 will make California the first state to pass a statute that will uphold the rights of transgenders. Notably, Massachusetts and Colorado are the other states that have similar statewide policies providing protections to transgenders but are yet to be mandated via statute.
According to a spokesman to the author of the bill, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the law is said to provide clarity on the existing legislation that makes it illegal for schools in California to discriminate against students based on their gender identity. Said bill will give students the right to “participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their gender identity and expression, regardless of their biological gender.
Supporters of the bill said that this will alleviate incidents of bullying and other abuse on students. For them, it is also another effort in promoting the rights of the LGBT community, who earlier celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DOMA and the subsequent continuation of same-sex marriage in the state.
Conversely, opponents of the bill said that California might be pushing this one too far if this allows opposite-sex students to use restrooms and locker rooms. Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) warned that the privilege of students who identify themselves as transgender to enter shower rooms or bathrooms could be abused by youthful sex offenders.
AB 1266 previously passed the Assembly and now the Senate, which passed the bill via a 21-9 vote. The pending legislation is yet to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. No comment has been made on the recently passed bill, said a spokesperson to the governor.
Incidentally, one of the California employment laws also provides protection to individuals who identify themselves as transgenders. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the state’s anti-discrimination law that prohibits covered employers from discriminating, harassing, and retaliating against employees and applicants on the basis of their gender, particularly gender-related characteristics.