Calif. Senate committee advances transgender student rights bill

  • June 26, 2013

SACRAMENTO — A California Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require public schools to respect a transgender student’s gender identity in all school programs, activities, and facilities.

The School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) was approved by the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 5-2.

The bill will provide guidance to district and school leaders about how to meet their obligations to protect the safety and well being of all students, including those that are transgender.

“Transgender students should not have to overcome additional barriers as they pursue their education. Like any other students, they shouldn’t be singled out and excluded,” said Joel Baum, a former middle school science teacher, principal and district administrator.

Baum is currently the Director of Education and Training at Gender Spectrum and lecturer in Educational Leadership at CSU East Bay.

The measure also ensures that students who are transgender have equal access to facilities and activities like sports teams that match their gender identity.

“All I want to do is go to school and have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else,” said Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca who came to Sacramento with his mother to testify at the committee hearing.“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. Every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone, making it extremely difficult to learn.” he said.

California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students are often excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities and facilities.

The measure is sponsored by Assemblymen Tom Ammiano, (D-San Francisco), and is co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), and Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

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