Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday that will protect the rights of transgender students, a move many LGBTQ activists hope will spur the passage of similar legislation in other states across the nation.
Although California discrimination laws already address school activities, AB 1266 specifically requires “that a pupil 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.”
Supporters of AB 1266 hope that the new law will help transgender and non-gender conforming students feel more comfortable in their school environment, producing better educational outcomes. “We have heard from scores of parents concerned that their children are at risk for dropping out of school merely because they are transgender,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis. “It breaks my heart to see our youth excluded from activities at school simply because of who they are. This bill is urgently needed to ensure that every student has a fair chance to fully participate and graduate.”
Now that the bill has been signed into law in California, advocates hope other states will follow suit. Massachusetts could be next in line, according to ABC News. Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which is working to try and pass a similar bill in its state, told the news station, “We applaud Governor Brown and the state of California for taking this critical step to ensure that transgender youth have their gender identities affirmed and respected at school.”