Transgender students in California will soon be given specific rights unlike any other state. At the start of the new year, students can choose which school facilities to use, and activities to participate in, based on the gender they identify with.
The new law, AB1266, which is effective Wednesday, will impact transgender students at the K-12 levels. Right now, students have to use facilities that identify with their gender at birth, but this law will give them a choice.
School districts will need to make a bunch of changes in order to accommodate them.
"This is what presents new challenges for how we structure and organize in our school environments," said Dr. Nancy Kotowski, superintendent for Monterey County.
Kotowski said gender equality for all students has always been a priority. But this new law goes even further.
"It requires that school activities and facilities be open to transgender students according to their gender identity," she said.
That means districts across the state will have to make specific changes at schools, including reviewing locker room layouts; scheduling sensitivity training for coaches; assessing who will sleep where during overnight field trips; and reconsidering senior portrait dress codes.
"Schools are already beginning to take a look at these concerns and issues, but it's being done at an individual basis, student by student," Kotowski said.
That's because within days of launching the new law, it could be suspended. A coalition of conservative groups, called "Privacy for All Students," has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures to repeal the new law. Until that's sorted out, Kotowski said accommodations will be made at her schools on an individual basis.
"Currently the culture of respect should permeate all of our school learning environments, and that includes gender equity to all children," she said.
The signatures are expected to be verified by Jan. 8.