California: Bill supporting transgender student advances

From The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:  http://sdgln.com/news/2013/06/12/california-bill-supporting-transgender-student-advances

SACRAMENTO — The California Senate Education Committee today passed AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that provides crucial support for transgender students, by a vote of 5-2.

The bill would ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs and facilities. AB 1266 is authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and is co-authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins of San Diego.

AB 1266 would ensure that students who are transgender have equal access to facilities and activities like sports teams that match their gender.

“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 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.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the country and serves more than 670,000 students, successfully implemented a policy virtually identical to AB 1266 in 2005 to ensure that no student is left out.

“Families matter in LAUSD. We’ve worked with students and families closely to ensure that our policies related to gender identity are successful, welcomed by students, and supported by parents,” said Judy Chiasson, program coordinator for Human Relations, Diversity and Equity at the Los Angeles Unified School District. “In addition to longstanding policies banning bullying, harassment, and discrimination, LAUSD has had specific policies banning discrimination based on gender identity for nearly a decade. We have firsthand experience recognizing and valuing the diversity of school communities, which ultimately enhances and enriches the lives of all our students.”

Continue reading at:  http://sdgln.com/news/2013/06/12/california-bill-supporting-transgender-student-advances

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