By Jane Meredith Adams
November 13th, 2013
As efforts to overturn a new law allowing transgender students to use bathroom facilities and participate in sports teams consistent with their gender identity gain momentum, repeal of the law would have no impact on many existing policies protecting transgender rights in youth sports, according to legal advocates.
It would also, they say, not affect more comprehensive anti-discrimination policies in four school districts, including Los Angeles Unified.
Privacy for All Students, a Sacramento-based coalition of advocacy and religious groups, said this week that it had submitted 620,000 signatures – some 115,000 more than the 505,000 signatures required by the California Secretary of State – to put a referendum on the ballot challenging Assembly Bill 1266, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Aug. 12. The law allows transgender students to participate in school sports teams and other activities, and to use bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities consistent with a student’s gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on the student’s records.
Repeal of the law, said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Privacy for All Students, would give local school districts the flexibility to “seek less intrusive alternatives, such as access to a teacher’s facility, a single-stall restroom, private changing times” rather than allowing transgender students to use general student bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Schubert is the national political director for the National Organization for Marriage, which was heavily involved in organizing for the 2008 ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriages, known as Proposition 8.
Even if the referendum were successful, repeal of the law would not affect existing California and federal laws, or school district and California Interscholastic Federation policies, that offer some protection for transgender students, said Ilona Turner, legal director of the Transgender Law Center, an Oakland-based organization that is involved in litigation across the country. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination at school on the basis of gender identity, Turner said, but don’t provide detail about what that means for school districts. The number of transgender adults is estimated to be about 0.5 percent of the state’s population, and the percentage of transgender youth would be lower, Turner said. The term transgender refers to those who identify with a gender that differs from their sex.