By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Local activists have joined a statewide effort to reverse a law allowing male students who identify themselves as transgender to use girl’s restrooms in all California public schools for grades K-12.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act into law this summer. Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, AB1266 specifically provides that students can use restrooms, lockers and showers based on what gender they identify themselves as.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2014. Photos are already posted on social media depicting supposedly unisex access notices typed on bond paper and affixed to bathroom doors.
The law’s supporters argue transgender youth face issues like being denied credits for graduation when they have no place to change for gym class. Some feel opponents are being discriminatory and insensitive. However, opponents say their goal is child safety and nothing more, including religion or sexual preference.
Some are outraged over the law took their concerns to Reverend K.W. Tulloss, president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Reverend Al Sharpton.
“As the father of a 13-year-old girl, I understood where they were coming from so that’s why we’re demanding questions,” and why the organization joined the coalition, Rev. Tulloss told The Final Call.
He wants state officials to revisit the law and hear more from parents and communities about why many feel this is a bad idea. The mandate increases risks of exposing young girls to fully mature males in personal spaces, bullying, harassment, and assault, said opponents of the law.
Asked why grassroots organizations are raising their voices after the law’s been passed versus during the introductory and lobbying phases, Rev. Tulloss told The Final Call: “That means we have a lot of individuals in office that’s not bringing the information back to the community and are not moved by the pulse of the community.”
“That’s why it’s important that we as a community continue to be vigilant and aware of certain laws that are being pushed that’s not community driven,” he continued.
Massen Davis, executive director of the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, said the referendum campaign is “truly unfortunate because it puts a glaring spotlight on young people who are often already facing a lot of challenges and barriers.”
Ms. Davis responded to questions in an e-mail to The Final Call.
While there is already a law preventing schools from discriminating against transgender youth, AB1266 holds schools more accountable. It requires among other things that transgender students be permitted to participate in sex-segregated programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions.