Poway Unified just wasn’t AB 1266 proactiveTrans Progressive Thursday, February 18th, 2016
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Rancho Bernardo High School student Jens Briscoe “just wants to be a boy and do what other boys do.” Holly Stewart Franz, a mother of a fellow student of Briscoe’s, has put public roadblocks in the way of him doing so.
California Education Code section 221.5, as modified by 2013s School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), states students “shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with their gender identity, regardless of the gender listed in their student records.” There was an effort to put AB 1266 up for statewide referendum, but that effort failed. There was a second effort last year to place an initiative on the ballot that would have, among many other things, repealed AB 1266, and that too failed.
AB 1266 is law, and it isn’t changing.
The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) Board and its supervisor has now been publicly beset with the “controversy” of a transgender student using the boys locker room in accordance with their gender identity at Rancho Bernardo High School, and they were clearly unprepared for the “controversy.”
How so? There were numerous models across the state of what proactive, successful compliance with the law looked like that respected all students’ privacy. In Southern California, multiple school districts across the state looked to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In their intermediate and high schools, they’d installed curtained, private changing areas within the gender segregated locker rooms, just as LAUSD had. No student is required to change in these private changing areas, but any transgender or non-transgender student who feels uncomfortable changing in front of other students may use these private changing areas.
PUSD wasn’t proactive. And, that left space for Franz to turn this “controversy” into a media circus where a transgender boy hasn’t been allowed to just “be a boy and do what other boys do.” Franz called the local Fox affiliate, and their news division couldn’t resist the story.
Which then led to the Feb. 9 PUSD board meeting with multiple news outlets and over 350 people attending; which led to the trans community and its allies listening to multiple public speakers misgendering Briscoe as female. Perhaps worst of all, trans people had to listen to speaker Sierra White spreading the lie that transgender students are a locker room safety issue.
“What would happen after sports events, such as water polo,” White stated in testimony at the board meeting, “where students must take off their swimsuits to change, leaving them fully exposed? Or when students must shower after athletic events? This serves as an opportunity for sick-minded people to take advantage of the system. My concern is that someone will be able to use a self-established gender identity to look at, or even attack students of the opposite gender.”
In an earlier interview with me, Judy Chiasson, Ph.D., program coordinator for Human Relations at the LAUSD, described why this doesn’t happen. “People who are behaving inappropriately don’t go to the authorities and say ‘I’m going to be inappropriate. Can I have your permission to do so?’” For White’s world to be a reality, male students would have to approach school administrations and state that they wanted to present and live as girls every day, week after week, just so they could engage in sexual misconduct in girls locker rooms. In the reality based world, students don’t go to school administrators, look them in the eyes, and ask them to sexually misbehave.
If the PUSD Board had been proactive after AB 1266 became law, they would’ve had a readymade answer to shut down the media circus.
But, the PUSD Board wasn’t proactive in building curtained privacy areas in the locker rooms for any student to use, with none forced to use. And the trans community is experiencing a crapload of public transphobia because of it.
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