After the discrimination we’ve been hearing about in Colorado, it’s refreshing to hear about a new bill in California that expands transgender students’ rights. AB1266 will allow students to join sports teams and use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. Executive director of the Transgender Law Service Masen Davis stated that "Transgender boys are boys, and transgender girls are girls, and this bill ensures they are treated as such." Not only does excluding transgender students from certain sports activities decrease school involvement, but many students have admitted to feeling threatened when using restrooms that don’t coincide with their gender identity. AB1266 permits the use of facilities and participation in programs and activities "irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil's records."
Eli Erlick (center) and her father in the Willits Charter School office
Of course there is plenty of opposition to this law. Take, for example, Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute. She believes that since there’s no strict law that regulates a person’s gender identity, this measure would be “open for abuse.” Because obviously we should be more concerned about the bill’s feelings rather than transgender kids’. They’re never mistreated, bullied, or abused. MOVING ON.
Kevin Gogin, the program manager in school health programs for San Francisco, is working to protect these students’ rights to the activities and facilities they need. As long as the student “exclusively and consistently” with a particular gender, representatives can help them gain the access that makes them feel most comfortable.
Eli Erlick is a 17-year-old transgender high school student at Willits Charter School in Mendocino County. She has lobbied at many other schools to establish policies for transgender rights, declaring, “The reality is there's not going to be girls in the (men's) locker room. This is about girls allowed to use the girls bathroom.”
Luckily California currently has a policy for transgender students who want to play sports on teams that line up with their gender identity, which reads, “All students should have the opportunity to participate in CIF activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student's records.” Woop woop!
Director of training and education at the organization Gender Spectrum Joe Blaum is determined to ensure this bill doesn’t get cheapened into just the “bathroom bill.” Blaum wants everyone to know that “"Use of restrooms and lockers is...a tactic that misses the point. This isn't about any one practice. It's a bill about creating an inclusive requirement." We at BUST couldn’t agree more.
Photos via SFGate.com, taken by Sam Wolson