During this time of year, the Legislature considers hundreds of bills that can have a significant impact on our lives. With the majority party now having complete control of the legislative process, it has approved bills that are out-of-step with the priorities of most Californians.
One bill, recently approved by the Assembly, is AB 1266 which is now in the hands of the Senate for their consideration. It raises troubling questions for schools, parents, and students. The proposed law says:
“A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
For me, this issue is not about athletics. I support every student’s right to participate in school sports, but what I find disturbing is that a student can use restrooms, showers, and locker rooms that are opposite their biological gender. This would be allowable under the “facilities” portion of the law. Most disturbing to me is that the law would apply to K - 12th grades.
I first wrote on this controversial idea last year highlighting the fact that taking up such a measure at a time when the Legislature had to deal with more pressing problems was unwise. While the bill was tabled during last year’s session, it resurfaced again this year because liberal politicians were emboldened by their party’s newfound supermajority status to push their extreme social agenda. They used that supermajority to approve Assembly Bill 1266, ignoring concerns over privacy and local control.
The overwhelming majority of students are not confused or questioning their gender identity. These students and their parents have the reasonable expectation that they would not be forced to share intimate spaces with the opposite sex. Yet Assembly Bill 1266 violates their privacy.
A major shortcoming of the bill is that it does not have a standard to determine the truthfulness of a student’s gender identity claim. Indeed, the bill eliminates the existing standard we have now – the gender listed on the student’s records. Without a standard, the school will have little choice but to accept whatever the student says. School officials and parents will have no say over where the gender-questioning student will shower or which restroom they will use.
Under the proposal, a mischievous boy could say he is a girl so he can use the girls side of the locker room. Given that kids will be kids, such a scenario is possible. But whether or not such a scenario becomes a reality, the larger point is this – a boy who identifies as a girl is still biologically male due to their anatomical functions. They should not be allowed to share showers or bathrooms with the opposite sex at such a young age.
I am also opposed to the bill’s clear attempt to undermine local control of our schools. The issue of gender identity is a sensitive issue that arouses passionate debate. Our schools must show respect and compassion for students with genuine gender identity issues, but forcing every school to adhere to the social values of the liberal lawmakers is not the answer.
A one-size-fits-all law on gender identity fails to recognize the differences among our state’s diverse school districts. What may work for San Francisco (which already has a gender identity policy of its own) does not necessarily work for Chino Unified and vice versa. This is an issue that is best left to school districts and parents as they can work out individually-tailored arrangements that protect the privacy and dignity of all students.
As Assembly Bill 1266 moves to the State Senate for its consideration, I hope more people will contact their State Senators to oppose it and support local control instead. I support efforts to end the bullying and mistreatment of any student, but we must also balance that priority with the rights of other students who do not question their own gender.