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Transgender restroom rights for students an issue, sort of

Craig Clough | April 23, 2015

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All-Gender-Restroom-SignThe issue of transgender students and the restrooms they use has been all over the news lately, both in California and elsewhere.

The Nevada Assembly this week rejected a bill that would have required students to use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex.

The so-called “bathroom bill” had been heavily criticized by transgender rights advocates, and LA Unified’s experience with transgender students was repeatedly cited in media stories about the issue.

Supporters argued that some students could pretend to be transgender just to spy on members of the opposite sex, and that segregation is needed to prevent sexual assaults.

But the Reno Gazette-Journal reported:

Judy Chiasson can attest to that in Los Angeles Unified School District, having overseen the integration of transgender students into the bathroom of their choosing for a decade.

Chiasson said the district of 700,000 students has not received one report of sexual misconduct by transgender students: “If anything, the transgender student is going to be the victim.”

Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, a Nevada Democrat, said the bill is “in search of a solution to a nonexistent state problem.”

By allowing transgender students to use the restroom that aligns with their identity for over a decade, LAUSD has been on the progressive forefront of the issue, allowing students to use the restroom of their preference. But two Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High School students want further action and have started a petition asking that all Los Angeles public schools create or designate at least one gender-neutral restroom.

The petition grew out a school project on economics but it does not estimate the cost of such a project for the district’s 1,000-plus schools.

“We wanted to do something about it, especially because when we were juniors, several students complained about a student entering the female restroom because she was born male,” student Ariana Padilla said in the press release. “We decided to bring clarity to the issue and make this the focus of our project.”

Meanwhile, the issue is getting new attention. A group that tried unsuccessfully to repeal California’s School Success and Opportunity Act is starting a ballot initiative that would restrict transgender people at government facilities, including students at schools, to using the restroom of their biological sex, the Sacramento Bee reported.

In effect since Jan. 1, 2014, the act guarantees protections for transgender students, including the right to use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The new ballot initiative, dubbed the Personal Privacy Protection Act, still needs 365,000 signatures to make it onto the 2016 ballot.

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