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Transgender student law brings few changes to local school districts

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Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 12:00 am

Local school districts have not replaced gender-specific restroom signs or made any other outward changes since Jan. 1, when so-called transgender rights legislation became law in California.

Some, in fact, have always provided students with private restrooms or locker rooms, if requested.

Under Assembly Bill 1266, which went into effect Jan. 1, a transgender student can choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restroom at school based on the gender that student identifies with. The law also allows a male who identifies as a female to use the girls’ locker room or join a girls’ sports team, and vice versa.

“We really haven’t had any changes. We haven’t had any issues in the sports arena yet,” said Colleen Hurley, Galt Joint Union High School District’s director of student services. “We already allow students who have a need for privacy an option to change in a private location or use the restroom in a private location, and will continue to do so.”

In Lodi Unified School District, principals handle situations related to gender identity on a case by case basis, according to Superintendent Cathy Washer.

But Tokay High School Principal Erik Sandstrom said Monday the issue has not come up as a concern, before or after AB 1266.

“We are ready to support students in any and all matters,” he said.

Even as schools elsewhere in California are working to enforce the law, some of the state’s citizens are working to overturn it.

Shortly after the passage of AB 1266, a group of citizens opposing the bill launched a campaign to get a referendum on November’s ballot. They needed 504,760 qualified signatures, or 5 percent of all votes cast in the last election, to take the bill to the voters.

Although the group’s members turned in more than 619,000 signatures, the secretary of state’s office announced earlier this month that, based on a random sample count, the referendum just failed to get enough signatures to automatically qualify for the ballot.

County election officials now have until Feb. 24 to conduct a full tally of the signatures. If enough signatures are found to be valid, the law would be stayed until a vote is taken this fall.

Sacramento County has already started its full check of all 29,629 signatures received on all 5,410 pages, according to Office of Election’s spokeswoman Alice Jarboe.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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