Written By: Chaewon Lee
On Aug. 7, California Gov. Jerry Brown made history by signing Assembly Bill 1266, also known as the School Success and Opportunity Act, into law, ensuring that transgender students have full access to all public school activities and facilities consistent with their gender identity regardless of their sex. Even with California’s generally liberal social bias, the bill had a highly mixed reception.
Liberal groups generally praised the bill for fighting discrimination against transgender students in schools. The strongest support for the bill came from California’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups, such as Equality California and Transgender Law Center. In a recent joint release, the two aforementioned organizations, along with many others, stated that the bill “sent a powerful message to LGBT youth by letting them know their state and their government fully support them.”
Members of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) pointed to their own success with a very similar gender equality ruling, passed in 2005, as a reassurance for concerned parents and students. “In all the years since the LAUSD implemented [the gender equality] policy, we have encountered nothing but positive results,” LAUSD board member, Judy Chiasson, wrote in an article titled “Success and opportunity for transgender students.” “Our experience demonstrates that discomfort should not dictate the way we treat our students.”
On the other hand, conservatives criticized the new law as being invasive, radical and illogical. The main concerns many conservative groups pointed out were the invasion of regular students’ privacy in locker rooms and bathrooms and the complications that may arise from trying to define which students fall under these new transgender rights. Several of these groups, such as the Capitol Resource Institute, have taken up arms online and are now calling for Gov. Brown to repeal the law.
Some individuals also voiced their support for or opposition to AB 1266 through the media. In a widely read column titled “Transgender restroom law humiliates the 98%,” Republican assemblyman Tim Donnelly called the act “a recipe for disaster.” “[AB 1266] will put at risk the right of privacy of every other student, and will open our state to unlimited liability,” he wrote.