by Brian Leubitz
Gov. Jerry Brown has just announced that he has signed AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, a measure that would protect transgender youth in our schools.
The bill-which goes into effect on January 1, 2014-was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country, and 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.
“I’m so excited that California is making sure transgender students have a fair chance to graduate and succeed,” said Calen Valencia, an 18-year-old transgender student from Tulare. “I should have graduated this year, but my school refused to give me the same opportunity to succeed as other boys. Now other transgender youth won’t have to choose between being themselves and graduating high school.”
While California has already prohibited discrimination in our schools, there has still been a lot of inconsistency around how transgender youth have been treated. Going forward, students will be able to enforce their gender identity, and be treated according to that identity. Kudos to Asm. Ammiano, and all of the co-authors, for their tireless work on this front.