California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act. The bill clarifies and strengthens the rights of all students, including transgender students, to access school facilities and participate in school programs without discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.
In a press release praising Governor Brown’s action, Equality California and several other LGBT equality organizations explain that the bill “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.”
As important as AB 1266 is, it’s also worth pointing out that California already prohibited discrimination in education based on gender identity. LGBT advocates urged approval of AB 1266 to strengthen and clarify these preexisting protections. As Equality California and other organizations observe,
California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students have been often discriminated against and unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities and facilities. This exclusion negatively 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.
To clarify schools’ non-discrimination obligations, the bill adds the following language to California Education Code Section 221.5: “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.”