When the vast majority of Sonoma County’s schools go back in session Monday, the rules for who uses which bathroom and what locker room will have changed.
But many local educators say adjustments will be subtle to non-existent as officials navigate a new law for transgender students.
The state law, AB1266 authored by Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, requires that “a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
It is the nation’s first such law, although some school districts in Sonoma County and across California have been making accommodations for transgender students for years.
“This is not new news to us,” said West Sonoma County High School Superintendent Keller McDonald. “It’s a new law, but our district has adapted to or accommodated transgender kids for six years.”
“We have crossed that bridge at all of our schools,” he said.
Other districts have not yet faced a student who is transitioning genders openly, so officials are watching how the law — and any opposition — unfolds.
In Roseland, where students range from pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, officials will “wait and watch and see what happens over the next couple of weeks,” said Superintendent Gail Andrade Ahlas. “We haven’t had any specific requests” for accommodation.
“It seems that no matter what we come across, each situation is definitely going to be different,” she said. “You really need to differentiate for whatever the situation is for that child. I believe that something fair could be worked out for any situation.”
The law is already facing opposition.
A coalition called Privacy for All Students has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures asking for a public vote on the law that was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in August.