By Susan Payne
A bill to require K-12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to gender-neutral restrooms for students has been introduced by the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Senator Josh Newman.
“Schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, one where they’re able to focus on learning and where they’re encouraged to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” said Newman (D-Fullerton). “Let’s face it— at some point during a typical 8-hour school day, everyone is going to have to go. By requiring all California K-12 schools to provide gender-inclusive restroom facilities on campus, we’ll ensure the well-being of our LGBTQ+ and non-binary students and ensure safer school communities for everyone.”
Currently, California schools must grant students access to restroom facilities consistent with their gender, but the frequent lack of easily accessed, explicitly gender-neutral restrooms at schools remains problematic for students who do not identify with the traditional genders, according to the Los Angeles Blade.
“While states across the country are passing discriminatory policies attacking LGBTQ+ students, especially trans and non-binary youth, California is doubling down to ensure that schools are safe for all students to succeed,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, a co-sponsor of SB 760. “SB 760 will ensure that students have access to an all-gender restroom without fear of harassment. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Newman and Superintendent Thurmond in championing this first-of-its-kind legislation to create a safe and supportive environment for all students.”
Under the proposed SB 760, all K-12 schools across the state will be required to provide accessible all-gender bathrooms for students to use safely and comfortably, according to the Blade. The bill also mandates there be a sufficient number of all-gender, unlocked restrooms.
“From seventh through ninth grade, I avoided using the bathroom at my school. Though I had not yet come out as transgender –– even to my family –– I was uncomfortable using either the male or female restrooms. The only all-gender restroom at my school was exclusively for teachers, was kept locked, and was located behind the desks of administrative staff. To use that restroom I would have had to come out as transgender to the faculty — something I was not ready to do,” said Sam S., high school student, and a member of the Superintendent’s Safe School Bathroom Ad Hoc Committee. “LGBTQ youth often face bullying in school, and the lack of accessible all-gender restrooms makes school overtly unwelcoming, leading to increased rates of dropout, homelessness, and suicide. All California students deserve to access education with dignity.”
SB 760, if passed, would make California the first state to requite in schools across the state.
Senator Caroline Menjivar, Assemblymember Corey Jackson and Assemblymember Evan Low co-authors SB 760. If the bill is approved by committees in this legislative session, it will head to Gov. Newsom’s desk by the end of summer, the Blade reported.
If the bill is approved by committees throughout this legislative session, it will head to the Governor Newsom’s desk by the end of the summer.