Reaction in Lodi was mixed after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will allow transgender students to choose what restroom to use or whether to participate on either boys’ or girls’ athletic teams.
Chris Beach, who was active with the Lodi Rainbow Coalition, was glad to hear the news. Students should participate in the gender they identify with “because that’s who they are,” he said.
Transgender people identify with the opposite gender than the one they had at birth.
Ron Heberle, a Lodi Unified School District board member, wonders how the new law will be applied.
“Just because they passed a law doesn’t mean it’s a good idea,” Heberle said. “When the Legislature passes a law, I don’t believe they’re taking into account student safety.”
Heberle said that he expects lawsuits and countersuits to be filed over the legislation. He and Lodi Unified trustee George Neely said they would like more details on what the bill requires.
According to Equality California, an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passage of the bill will improve schools’ graduation rates because transgender people have often faced discrimination and been excluded from physical education classes, athletic teams and other school activities.
“This exclusion negatively impacts students’ ability to succeed in school and graduate with their class,” John O’Connor, Equality California’s executive director, said in a news release. “For example, physical education credits are required to graduate, but transgender students often do not have the support they need to fully participate in the courses.”
Beach, from Lodi, added that if students are allowed to participate in activities they identify with, they’re not as likely to drop out.
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