SAN DIEGO – As San Diego Unified School leaders prepare to implement a new law protecting transgender students, opponents are awaiting the results of a petition drive that would send the law to a referendum.
AB 1266, the “School Success and Opportunity Act,” allows transgender students to choose which restrooms they use and which sports teams they join.
The legislation has received support from many educational and LGBTQ organizations, but also has a large opposition from groups hoping to overturn the law.
Clairemont Baptist Church Pastor Chris Clark is among those across the state taking part in “Privacy For All Students,” a petition drive to send the law to a referendum.
“It’s unfair to all kids for their privacy,” said Clark. “And it’s really not involving parents. There is no provision that parents are involved on a state level. While that may vary from district to district, to codify that at a state level I think is a precursor to a lot of problems in the future.”
Despite the opposition, the San Diego Unified School Board is moving forward with revising its policies for the law. School Board President Kevin Beiser insists the rights of all children will be protected.
“The idea that students will be able to just go into whatever bathroom they want is not true,” said Beiser. “There is a deliberate and thoughtful process including counselors, staff, parents and students, before anyone can move on to use the facilities that are appropriate for that child.”
Beiser said San Diego Unified policies already protect transgender students, though he would not say whether those students currently choose which restrooms they use. He said each student is evaluated on a “case-by-case basis” and there have been no problems so far.
He also noted the transgender policy has been in place in the L.A. Unified School District for ten years and said there has not been a single incident or problem.
“I think it’s unfortunate that there is a lot of fear and hysteria being whipped up around this very policy, because this is really about doing what’s right for kids,” he said.
Clark believes even with safeguards the law goes too far.
“There’s no policy that would completely respect the privacy of the kids and involve parents whose values may be different,” said Clark. “That believe girls should be in the girls locker room and boys should be in the boys locker room.”
District leaders will further discuss changes to their policies at the January 14 school board meeting. Beiser said parents who have concerns about the new policies should contact their child’s principal.