Calif. First State to Enact Transgender Students Rights Law

By Rory Devine
|  Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014  |  Updated 12:33 AM CDT
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On Jan. 1, a new state law took effect allowing transgender students to decide which bathroom or locker room they feel more comfortable using. NBC 7’s Rory Devine has what the San Diego Unified School District is saying about it.

On Jan. 1, a new state law took effect allowing transgender students to decide which bathroom or locker room they feel more comfortable using. NBC 7’s Rory Devine has what the San Diego Unified School District is saying about it.

On Jan. 1, California became the first state in the country to enact a law protecting the rights of transgender students.

Students who identify as the opposite sex can now choose which restroom to use, which locker room to use and whether to play on boys’ or girls’ sports teams.

New Laws of 2014

The San Diego Unified School District says it has already been doing this on a case-by-case basis.

“We don’t anticipate a lot of change at San Diego Unified,” school board member Richard Barrera said. “We’ve been doing this work for a number of years. The point is we care about each student. We feel everyone is stronger when we have a chance to participate and fully engage.”

The district already has anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies in place to accommodate a few transgender students, according to board president Kevin Beiser. Beiser says there is a process involving counselors, parents and staff to determine who is eligible for the accommodations.

A coalition of conservative groups is collecting signatures to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot. If the referendum to repeal the law qualifies, the law could be suspended.

One of those opponents is Finn Laursen, Executive Director of the Christian Educators Association International, a group that represents Christian teachers. He says the law goes beyond anti-bullying and sex equality policies, where he says it’s clear who the boy is and who the girl is.

This law, Laursen says, is based on self-determination of gender.

“It doesn’t say there is a process to go through to identify with sexual orientation you believe you have,” he said. “It’s wide open. I think there are enough challenges in our schools without warring the sexes.”

“I think it’s unfortunate there’s a lot of fear and hysteria whipped up around this policy because this is really about doing what’s right for kids,” Beiser said.

San Diego Unified is currently making small language revisions to its existing policies. The board will consider the changes at a school board meeting Jan. 14.

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