AB 1266 Clarifies Existing California Law Regarding Access to Programs and Facilities by Transgender Students

This week Governor Brown signed AB 1266, which adds section 221.5(f) to the Education Code. It provides "A pupil shall 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."

News outlets pounced on the new law, some sides celebrating the law and others criticizing it. However, what most stories failed to mention was that AB 1266 didn't grant transgender students any new rights, it merely clarified existing laws. Education Code section 220 already provides that "No person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of... gender, gender identity, gender expression,... sexual orientation,... in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid." (emphasis added)

The new law clearly provides that students are to be allowed to participate in sex-segregated athletic teams and use sex-segregated facilities, such as locker-rooms, based on their gender identity. This is consistent with the provisions of Section 220 which prohibit discrimination of students in any school activity based on their gender identity or gender expression.

The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2014.