Today, Aug. 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic and controversial School Success and Opportunity Act into law. Assembly Bill 1266 – which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 – was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer.
The law 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. It allows them to choose whether they participate in boys or girls sports and which bathrooms they use.
Co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins, the bill is backed by a coalition of organizations, including Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Gender Spectrum, Equality California, ACLU of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and other organizations.
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, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school district.
California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but supporters say transgender students have been often discriminated against and excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities, and facilities due to their sex. They say this exclusion 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.
Gov. Brown’s efforts to protect LGBT Californians includes his support to ban 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.