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California Enacts New Legislation Regarding Transgender Student Rights

On Monday, August 12, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1266, a bill which grants new rights to transgender students in California K-12 schools, and clarifies existing questions about the rights of such students.  AB 1266 amends Education Code 221.5 to include language which requires public schools to allow a student to participate in sex-segregated athletic teams and use facilities consistent with their gender identity. Specifically, AB 1266 adds the following to Education Code section 221.5:

 (f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

This means that a student who identifies as a gender different than the gender listed in the pupil’s records, or different than the gender assigned to the student at birth, must be permitted to:

  •  Play on a sex-segregated sports team with the gender he or she identifies with.

e.g., a student assigned the gender of female at birth, but who identifies as male, must be allowed to play on the boys’ basketball team.

  •  Use the restroom of the gender he or she identities with.

e.g., a student assigned the gender of female at birth, but who identifies as male, must be allowed to use the boys’ restroom.

  •  Use the locker room of the gender he or she identifies with.

e.g., a student assigned the gender of female at birth, but who identifies as male, must be allowed to use the boys’ locker room.

Under this bill, the student has the choice.  In other words, transgender students may, if they choose, continue to participate in activities with, and use the facilities for, the gender to which they were assigned at birth.

The bill will take effect January 1, 2014.  This is the first law of its kind in the United States.  Parents, students and the general public will likely have many questions about this bill. Kingsley Bogard, LLP is available to assist school districts in navigating these new requirements.

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