by Alex Mazariegos
SACRAMENTO—Following months of deliberation between proponents and opponents of the bill, Governor Jerry Brown will now decide on the outcome of AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, after the bill arrived on the Governor's desk on August 1.
AB 1266, introduced in February 2013 by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara, seeks to augment existing laws that prohibit public schools from discriminating based on gender identity. The act ensures that public schools permit students to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities. Furthermore, schools will be required to allow students to use facilities accordant with his or her gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on school records.
Ashton Lee holding the petition in Sacramento.
“Although current California law requires schools to provide all students an educational atmosphere free from all discrimination based on gender identity,” said Ammiano before the California State Assembly. “Many school districts are not in compliance with the law either by prohibiting transgender students from participating in segregated activities or requiring a separate and therefore unequal use of school facilities,” he added.
On July 31, a 16-year-old transgender boy presented a petition with over 6,000 signatures in support of the bill to Governor Brown. “For me, this bill means I'd be able to fully participate in all of my classes, try out for sports teams, and stay on track to graduate,” said Ashton Lee before reporters.
Those that back AB 1266 include Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance, Equality California, ACLU of California and various teacher and parent organizations across the state. “It warms my heart to see so many caring people stand up for transgender youth by supporting AB 1266,” blogged Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center. “Parents, teachers, counselors, and youth have joined together with a common cause — they believe that all students should be given a fair shot at success. Discrimination against one young person is discrimination against all young people. That’s why we see such a diverse coalition of folks asking the Governor to sign this important bill.”
Opponents of the bill stress that the proposed law completely disregards the majority of students who are not the intended beneficiaries. “This bill takes an open-ended definition that leaves it open to the individual to define what gender is, and neither this bill or current law affords a clear definition as to what constitutes legitimate gender identity or gender expression,” said Ben Lopez, spokesperson for the Traditional Values Coalition, before California's State Assembly in April.
The bill passed the California State Senate in July, and it was delivered to the Governor on August 1, according to the California Legislative Information registry. Governor Brown will have about 12 days to decide on an outcome.