The story of San Juan as told by its students

AB 1266 Law Prevents Discrimination at SJHHS

May 4, 2015

AB 1266: Existing law prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of specified characteristics, including gender, gender identity, and gender expression, and specifies various statements of legislative intent and the policies of the state in that regard. Existing law requires that participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, be available to pupils of each sex.

This bill requires that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions while also allowing the use of facilities consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

This law will allow students to use the restroom that they most align with their gender identity, as well as allowing students to change their name and pronoun on documents such as attendance records,  so that teachers do not misgender them.

There were two PTSA meetings regarding LGBTQ+ rights. One was for LGBTQ+ rights in general and pertained to CUSD  as a whole. The other one, which took place on April 1st, was for SJHHS specifically, with a primary focus on AB 1266 and an update of nondiscrimination policy.

Tom Ressler, current principal at SJHHS, attended one of the meetings. Ressler stated that the PTSA’s focus differs on the perceived importance of an issue.

“There are different things they (PTSA) take as being important issues for students and for schools so they will go and advocate certain positions.  This was one of the issues that the California PTSA wanted to support so they put some resolution together,” said Ressler.

The state PTSA has adopted a resolution that they want to present to the state which says that they support the nondiscrimination policy. School boards around the state are starting to adopt. This was brought up at the Capistrano Unified Council of PTSAs.

Even though there was a majority support for the implementation of AB 1266, the PTSA’s approval on the law ultimately does not matter.

“AB 1266 is the law so it doesn’t matter who doesn’t like it. It is just a matter of how were going to implement this law,” said Ressler.

Mrs. Serio, English teacher and the adviser of the Queer Alliance Club at SJHHS, attended the meeting to gauge parent support and to provide information for AB 1266. Serio attended the PTSA meeting that took place on April 1st.

She noted there was a majority support for the implementation of AB 1266.

The main purpose of the law is to make students feel more comfortable and safe. It also creates a new mandate where transgender students can change the listing of their gender in the district without parental approval.

“I specifically think about how my students are going to feel safer and happier at school and what I can do to make those students feel valued and important,” said Serio.

The Queer Alliance Club is focused on making a safe space for the youth of SJHHS and they are also working with the school district to implement the law.

“We’re working with the school district regarding AB 1266 which is a law in California to promote a safe place for transgenders,” said Kenley Farace.

Students involved in the QA club are looking forward to the implementation of the law; sooner rather than later.

“I really hope that this law can be implemented before I graduate. It will be a great milestone for the LGBTQ+ community at our school and will make kids feel safe on campus.” said Sid Piravi (9).

The law ultimately stands to create a safe learning environment for every single student.

“The thing that’s important for me at the school site is that we want to make sure we do everything we possibly can to let all of our students feel safe and respected, that’s the bottom line. It’s not about bathrooms, it’s not about locker rooms, it’s letting kids feel safe,” said Ressler.

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