West Contra Costa preps for new transgender law

A Bay Area school district is setting up special accommodations for transgender students ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline.
December 26, 2013 9:59:09 PM PST
A new California law is set to take effect Jan. 1 that spells out the rights of transgender students. Some Bay Area school districts are already making changes to locker rooms, restrooms and dress codes.

Students won't return to campus until Jan. 6, but administration is wasting no time preparing this campus and all of its others for compliance with this new law. On Thursday they showed as an important first step.

With the new school year, all school districts must comply with a new state law that requires them to provide accommodations for transgender students in grades K-12. That means everything from reconfiguring locker rooms to providing sensitivity training for students and staff.

"The question is what are school districts going to do to be able to address this? This is a big explosive issue and lawsuits and litigation could be forthcoming if school boards are not prepared with new policies," said school board president Charles Ramsey from the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Ramsey showed us a first step in complying with the law that is designating a unisex bathroom in the student health center as transgender only.

"Gender identity has been an assumption up until now, so now realizing that there are students that don't meet the assumptions we've made before is a big piece of new information for our staff and our students," said Madeline Kronenberg from the West Contra Costa School Board.

West Contra Costa has had its share of troubles lately involving transgender students, including a recent fight at Hercules High School that led to the suspension of four students. The law is supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, but could be suspended soon after due to a petition drive by opponents that has now sparked a lawsuit.

The conservative Pacific Justice Institute filed suit last Friday, accusing some counties of refusing to accept valid signatures for the drive, even though they beat the state's 90-day deadline.

"We presented the petitions on the 88th and 89th days in two counties and so we believe that those votes should count. Every vote should count," said Kevin Snider from the Pacific Justice Institute.

In West Contra Costa, a special school board meeting is planned for Jan. 29 to discuss exactly how the district will accommodate its transgender students.


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