Today is "Give OUT" day, a nationwide fundraising drive for LGBT organizations. So the timing of the Assembly's passage of AB 1266 couldn't have been better as a way for me to make a pitch or two. The bill ensures that transgender students in California have equal and full access to programs and facilities on the basis of their gender identity.
"This shows the nobility of what a Legislature can do," bill author Assemblymember Tom Ammiano said on the Assembly floor.
The bill clarifies existing law, which already prohibits discrimination against transgender students. While some large districts - Los Angeles and San Francisco - are already successfully working with these students on the basis of their gender identities, many school districts are not presently in compliance with these requirements.
"Because somebody is uncomfortable is not a reason to discriminate," Ammiano said, responding to opponents of the bill, who argued that inclusion of transgender students would cause discomfort to others.
This bill does not require schools to create new programs or new facilities for any students and therefore would not have any fiscal impact. However, making the gender identity requirement clear will help parents and students understand their rights while also helping schools comply with the law, reducing conflict and the potential for litigation, while protecting students' health and well-being.
While a lot of work has been done to decrease bullying for gay and lesbian students, transgender youth are often hit particularly hard and may find it more difficult to find the resources that they need. That's one reason why I have given to the Transgender Law Center, a fantastic civil rights organization based in San Francisco. Though they were founded just over ten years ago, TLC is California's first "fully staffed, state-wide transgender legal organization." You can contribute to TLC here or you can find your favorite LGBT organization at the GiveOUT 2013 home page.