Youth leader clarifies AB 1266 for readers

By Lancaster resident Mario Vasquez, a SOAR High School alumnus attending San Francisco State University. Vasquez is also Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, a national organization that endorsed AB 1266 and advocated for it in Sacramento.

Mario Vasquez, a recent SOAR High School graduate, also the Vice President on the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Board of Directors.

Mario Vasquez, a SOAR High School graduate, is also the Vice President on the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Board of Directors.

Numerous letters to the editor have expressed commonly held misconceptions about the School Success and Opportunity Act, or AB1266. Over the past 18 months, I have worked as a youth leader for the Gay- Straight Alliance Network in concert with California legislators to see this bill become law, and I think it’s time to clarify AB1266 for readers.

The law does not mean that boys will be able to go in the girl’s bathroom or locker rooms and vice versa. It does mean that girls and boys who are transgender will be able to use the facility that pertains to their gender identity, and that they will not be stigmatized or relegated to using a health office or staff bathroom.

This law does not allow a student to constantly switch between use of boys’ and girls’ bathrooms or locker rooms based on how they feel that day. That is certainly not the experience of the many trans students who have spoken publicly about their school experiences. In fact, students who are transgender show a repeated and persistent desire to express as other than their natal gender.

There has always been an expectation of personal safety and privacy for students in school restrooms and locker rooms. All students worry about their safety to varying degrees, and this is particularly heightened for transgender youth who face disproportionate levels of assault, harassment, and rejection from family members.

During public testimony in Sacramento, this law received support from a wide range of parents, students, legislators, and organizations. Most importantly, the California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees school sports throughout the state, endorsed AB1266. Under this law, students who are transgender will be able to play on the sports team with which they identify. Participation in sports is an important part of the high school experience, and AB1266 gives trans youth access to such opportunities.

My alma mater, SOAR High School, implemented trans-inclusive policies several years ago and has welcomed a diverse student body, which includes transgender and gender non-conforming students who have been academically successful. As a survivor of horrendous middle school bullying, which was often witnessed, but ignored by teachers, I believe that we do need state policies, which protect every student’s right to an education.

This law gives my transgender and gender non-conforming friends the opportunity to succeed and fully participate, as I did at SOAR. School should not make it harder for students to succeed. I also don’t understand why many have such paranoia. When I use a restroom or locker room, I do what I need to do and do not concern myself with other people’s bodies.

The School Success and Opportunity Act, which goes into effect January 1st of 2014, clarifies present law which requires all students to be permitted to participate fully in school. The School Success and Opportunities Act allows students to participate in sex-segregated activities, teams, and facilities consistent with the students gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on the students records. This applies to grades k-12 and would ensure trans students are protected and have the same opportunities as others. This law is important because schools will understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students.

In fact, Los Angeles Unified and San Francisco School Districts, the two largest in the state, as well as several smaller districts, have already successfully implemented these trans-inclusive policies. No school site has reported a disruption in learning time or complaints from students.

It is import to remember that every school has anti-harassment policies and those will still be enforced. Harassment is harassment, regardless of what bathroom or locker room you’re in. The School Success and Opportunity Act brings us one step closer to equal access to education for all students.

Previous related stories:

Local officials push effort to repeal transgender student law

Former student leader concerned about “transphobic reaction”

Teacher: “Courage is doing what is right for children”

Reader: “Our only solution is erudition, not cowardice”

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  6 comments for “Youth leader clarifies AB 1266 for readers

  1. I've seen it all
    September 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    The only problem with the article is, its false. No where in AB1266 is there protection from students who aren’t trasngendered. You state that kids can’t switch back and forth. Really, I don’t see that in the text. Your assuming it should be that way. Mother nature made ” Man & Woman”. They have acted a certain way for millions of years. Now you have boys who feel like girls. That sounds like a defect in the body that eleased to much female hormones since birth. In 50 to 100 years, we will probably be able to fix that so you feel what Mother Nature intended you to be.

    In the mean time, why should my daughter be subjected to a boy standing next to her in the shower. Kids have been teased since the beginning of time. Thats how you develope COPING skills. The easiest fix to satisfy everyone is to have single person/use bathrooms on every campus. We need to stop trying to legislate every problem. Is it fair to allow a 6’4″ 200 lbs male on the girls softball team?

    Stop trying to fight Mother Nature with laws!

    • Maria paesano
      September 30, 2013 at 4:28 am

      Don’t you know with the enactment of the ” new and distorted” civil rights acts that came about in 1965, we allowed the ” new Mother Nature” to take over. I think it’s been quoted as meaning ” normalcy no more ” .

    • A being beyond your comprehension
      October 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

      I am the vanguard of your destruction. You fight against the inevitability, dusts struggling agaisnt cosmic winds. You resist, but you will fail. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it. We are your genetic destiny. You do not yet comprehend your place in things. Rudimentary creatures of blood and flesh. You touch my mind, fumbling in ignorance, incapable of understanding. Your words are as empty as your future. There is a realm of existence so far beyond your own, you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. My kind transcends your very understanding. We are each a nation. Independent. Free of all weakness. You can not even grasp the nature of our existence.

  2. SAC
    September 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    “It is import to remember that every school has anti-harassment policies and those will still be enforced. Harassment is harassment, regardless of what bathroom or locker room you’re in.”

    ……..EXACTLY! So why is AB 1266 necessary, again?

    • Mario
      September 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      Because it clarifies and enforces already existing laws. I say that, in the 8th paragraph.

      • Letlow
        September 28, 2013 at 7:17 am

        Way to go Mario! Thanks for saying everything I mean to say when I reply to some of these people. I don’t think you can clarify the law anymore than this. Hopefully the close minded folks intent on stirring up paranoia will actually read this article and think a bit.

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