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Bill Expands Transgender Anti-Discrimination Laws to Include Sports

by Blake Bunch, published
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Assembly approves bill that expands rights to transgendered student athletes

A recent piece of legislation in California would allow transgendered student athletes to use restrooms of their gender identity and not their biological sex. Assembly Bill 1266, authored by Assemblyman Tony Ammiano (D-San Francisco), passed the state Assembly, 45-24..

Ammiano claims the bill stems from legislation that protects transgendered individuals from discrimination, like fair housing laws for tenants. Citing the case of Erik Erlick, a transgendered student in Mendocino County, who was prohibited from participating in a girls' gym class, he believes the testimony of Erlick's parents provide a crucial background to an under looked form of discrimination.

"This shows the nobility of what a legislature can do. Making this gender identity requirement clear will help parents and students understand their rights while also helping schools comply with the law, reducing conflict and the potential for litigation, while protecting students' health and well-being," said Ammiano on the Assembly floor.

While the bill did not hinder the legislative process, not a single Assembly Republican voted on AB 1266. A majority of Republicans oppose the bill, but instead of casting a vote to express their opposition, they abstained. The bill has also received opposition from religious groups.

"Our Legislature tends to get involved in things that are better handled in local school districts," said Carol Hogan, a spokeswoman for the California Catholic Conference.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, these students are protected by Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex:

"Bullying, harassment, or discrimination against transgender or gender nonconforming students is covered by Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools. This resource outlines the rights trans and gender nonconforming students have in schools and how to file formal complaints."

Current California law explicitly specifies anti-discrimination regulations for transgender and/or "gender non-conforming" students through the California Student and Violence Prevention Act of 2000. This act ensures that transgendered students are safeguarded from being expelled from school, kicked out of the classroom, held after school, or being treated in any different manner because of their gender association.

These students are further given rights regarding their choice of names/pronouns while at school, their choice of restrooms, and their choice of attire.

Since AB 1266 passed with a wide margin, it seems likely the bill will pass the Senate as well. With the other aforementioned regulations already in place for these students, California seems to be making strides for the LGBT community.

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