What Is the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266)?
California’s new School Success and Opportunity Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2014, provides guidance to schools so they can make sure that transgender students, like all students, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.
Schools work to meet the needs of all students, and this law is based on policies and practices that are already working well in school districts across California. The law gives guidelines for schools to do what’s best for all students, and to work with students and families on a case-by-case basis. That’s why it’s supported by school boards, teachers, and the PTA.
The California School Boards Association has issued guidance that helps schools handle requests by transgender students and their parents and helps schools work with all students around privacy concerns.
This law does not create co-ed bathrooms. Girls’ and boys’ bathrooms remain separate. One student, Ashton, lives his life as a boy, so he uses the boys’ bathroom. Another student, Zoey, lives her life as a girl, so she uses the girls’ bathroom.
What Does It Mean to Be Transgender?
Kids who are transgender know on a deep level that their gender is different from their sex at birth. Understanding what it means to be transgender is new for many people.
- Ashton is a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca. He lives as a boy, but was assigned to girls’ gym class—this singled him out, since he was the only boy in a class full of girls, and made him feel so devastated he couldn't focus in his other classes. After learning about the law, his school administrators met with him and his parents and made a plan for him to join the boys’ physical education class. Now, Ashton is able to be himself and he is happily going to school with his friends.
Read an op-ed from Catherine Lee, Ashton's mom, published in the SF Chronicle.
- Zoey is a 12-year-old transgender girl from the Los Angeles area who transferred out of her school after administrators there refused to acknowledge her as a girl or allow her to use the girls’ restroom. Her mom, Ofelia Barba, says that the law makes it easier for her daughter to go to school and be herself.
- Dean is a 17-year-old transgender boy from Bakersfield and takes online classes instead of going to a traditional campus. He stopped going to regular high school because he was forced into girls’ activities and bathrooms even though he is transgender and he lives as a boy in all other parts of his life. He wishes he could go back to traditional school because he misses being around other kids, going to school with his friends, and being able to join clubs and participate in activities on campus.
- Kane is a 17-year-old from San Jose who wasn’t on track to graduate because he had been missing classes due to problems he was having at school related to his gender expression. After he heard about the law, he finally felt safe letting people know he is transgender, and living as a boy at school. His principal and teachers used the law as a guide, which has worked well for him and his classmates. Now he’s thriving at school.
What Are Parents of Transgender Youth Saying?
Parents of transgender kids talk about their love for their child. They talk about how, as a parent, they want their child to be happy and do well in school. They often share that it wasn’t always easy when their child came out as transgender, but that they support and love their child and want the best for them.
Guidance for Schools
The School Success and Opportunity Act is in effect and schools have already been working with families and kids to implement the law and support all students. They’re working with transgender students whose gender identity is deeply held to make sure they can use the appropriate bathrooms and facilities that reflect the way they live their lives.
No one wants to see kids singled out and excluded because of who they are. Fortunately, the law gives schools the guidelines and flexibility to create an environment where all kids have the opportunity to learn. Some students face greater challenges than others – for a variety of reasons – and schools work to meet the needs of all students.
Families and Schools Working Together
Parents and schools want to make sure that all kids have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate. The School Success and Opportunity Act helps make that happen.