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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August,16 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 33
Landmark California law protects Trans students
Section One
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Landmark California law protects Trans students

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law on August 12 providing landmark protections for Transgender students. The bill had previously passed the state Senate 21 to 9 and the Assembly 46 to 25.

The new law gives students the right 'to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities, and facilities' based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

California thus became the first state in the country to require its public schools to allow Trans students access to whatever restroom, locker room, or sports team they identify as appropriate for them.

Prior to signing the measure, Brown received a petition from Transgender high-school student Ashton Leigh, who had gathered 6,000 signatures in support of the legislation.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
The bill, named the School Success and Opportunity Act, was introduced by openly Gay Assembly member Tom Ammiano and co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara. Ammiano spokesperson Carlos Alcala said the bill will help Transgendered students have a more normal life during their high-school years.

'They're not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology,' Alcala said. 'Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it. We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position.'

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz celebrated the enactment of the measure.

'Well done, California, for passing a law that protects Transgender students from discrimination in their own schools and affirms their identities,' he said. 'This is another step to ensuring that Transgender students have the same opportunities at learning and school involvement as all other students.'

Oakland Unified School District spokesperson Troy Flint also said he was pleased with the legislation.

'Throughout history whenever rights have been granted to a group that suffered discrimination, there have been groups that challenged it,' he said. 'Over time, people who fought for equality have always been vindicated by history.'

The San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts have long had policies guaranteeing Transgender students the same rights included in the new bill. Oakland Unified adopted a similar policy in November.

FEDERAL PROTECTIONS
In July, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education ruled that Transgender students are protected under Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title IX states that 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.'

Title VII establishes fair employment practices and forbids discrimination of the basis of 'race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.'

The ruling settled a civil rights complaint against the Arcadia School District in Southern California, alleging the district improperly barred a middle-school student who identified as a boy from using a boys' bathroom and a boys' cabin on an overnight field trip.

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