Updated below (on Saturday, November 9, 2013)
This is what it’s about — not about horny heterosexual boys trying to get at the heterosexual girls in the girls’ bathrooms, as the wingnuts blatantly are lying about a California law that protects transgender public-school students. But even that said, the law is about a lot more than the bathroom, anyway.
In July, the California state Legislature passed a piece of legislation titled AB (Assembly Bill) 1266, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed on August 12.
AB 1266, which is not long, can be read in its entirety here.
AB does at least a few things where the biological sex and the gender identification of public-school students are concerned.
To me, perhaps the biggest substantive change that the new law makes is that it mandates that “A school district may not require a pupil of one sex to enroll in a particular class or course, unless the same class or course is also required of a pupil of the opposite sex.”
If I understand English correctly, that means that public schools in California may not have sex-segregated and sex-specific courses. When I was in junior high school (in Arizona), for instance, all seventh-grade male students were required to take shop, but no female students ever were required to take shop, and all seventh-grade female students were required to take home economics, but no male students ever were required to take home ec.
At my junior high school, which was comprised only of seventh- and eighth-graders, eighth-graders could take shop or home ec, regardless of their sex. Seventh-graders, though, had no choice, but were funneled into shop or into home ec solely based upon their sex.
Under AB 1266, in California, such sex-segregated class requirements — boys must take shop and girls must take home ec — are no longer allowed (again, if I understand English correctly).
AB 1266 also proclaims that “Any school personnel acting in a career counseling or course selection capacity to a pupil shall affirmatively explore with the pupil the possibility of careers, or courses leading to careers, that are nontraditional for that pupil’s sex.”
I remember the principal of my junior high school summoning a bunch of us seventh-grade boys into his office after we’d signed up to take home economics the next year. We’d already taken our required one year of shop, and, not wanting to take a second year of shop in eighth grade, we signed up to take home economics instead.
I remember the principal trying to talk us out of taking home ec. A few of us boys caved in to his pressure, but most of us (including myself) took home ec anyway. (I am gay, but most of the other boys who also decided to take home ec instead of another year of shop were not, to my knowledge, also gay.)
I don’t remember the principal’s exact “argument” (this was in the early 1980s…), but, in retrospect, my guess is that it was his personal belief that boys shouldn’t take home ec, and so he was going to try to dissuade us from doing so. (No, taking home ec did not “make” me gay. That was a pre-existing condition, so to speak.)
Had AB 1266 been the law of Arizona at that time, it would have been illegal for the principal to try to dissuade me and the other boys from taking home ec; he wouldn’t legally have been able to try to shove his own backasswards gender-role biases down our throats. (And had AB 1266 been the law of Arizona at the time, of course, I wouldn’t have been forced to take shop, which I hated, unless the girls were forced to take it, too.)
So I’m happy that today’s public-school students in California are set not to have to experience what I did, which was having backasswards/conservative/wingnutty gender roles shoved down my fucking throat.
I write “are set” because AB 1266 is set to go into effect on January 1, 2014.
But not if the haters get their way.
They’re in the middle of a campaign to gather enough petition signatures to put AB 1266 up for a “yes” or “no” vote before California’s voters in November 2014 (this process of reversing a piece of legislation at the ballot box is called a referendum).
The haters’ deadline to turn in the required number of signatures (more than half a million of them) is within less than a week. If, after their signatures are examined, they meet the signature requirement, AB 1266 will not go into effect on January 1, but will be suspended until after the voters of the state weigh in on it in November 2014, a year from now.
The intended effect of AB 1266, that I can discern, is to make public-school students feel like it’s OK to be themselves. The intended effect of AB 1266, that I can discern, is to cut down on such problems in our public schools as gender-identification-related (and sexual-orientation-related) bullying (including, of course, physical violence), ostracism, depression, drop-outs, and yes, suicide. It’s to help make every public-school student feel safe to be who he or she is, regardless of whether he or she possesses the XY or XX chromosomes and regardless of whether he or she identifies with the gender associated with his or her chromosomes.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
In that same spirit, it does no one any injury for his or her peer to identify as a male or as a female, regardless of whether his or her peer possesses the XY or XX chromosomes. (There are some rare variants of the XY or XX chromosomal set-up, but let’s please keep this simple…) It neither picks anyone’s pocket nor breaks anyone’s leg, so to speak. (Ditto for same-sex marriage, of course.)
But this is the portion of AB 1266, the very last sentence of AB 1266, that the wingnuts have focused upon like a hate-and-ignorance-filled laser: “A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” (Emphasis mine.)
The wording is, admittedly, vague. “Facilities” can encompass a lot. Presumably, “facilities” includes restrooms and locker rooms.
However, sexual activity isn’t supposed to be going on inside of school or public restrooms and locker rooms anyway.
You’re not supposed to be exposing yourself to others in restrooms. The last time that some male apparently exposed himself to me (he proudly displayed his erection to me, to which I did not outwardly react at all) in a men’s restroom was many years ago, and he did it at a urinal, so that he could have plausible deniability, apparently. My point is that other males just aren’t showing me their junk in men’s restrooms (whether I’d want them to or not), and I assume that in women’s restrooms, too, women aren’t exposing themselves to each other.
So I don’t understand how it hurts anyone should a transgender student use the restroom of the gender the student identifies with. I can, however, see a problem with, say, forcing a male-to-female transgender student to use a restroom that is restricted for use only by biological males. Maybe this student will avoid using the boys’ restroom like the plague in order to avoid being beaten up.
I can see that because, unlike the wingnuts, I possess a degree of fucking empathy.
Communal (versus individual) showers in public schools are, in my opinion, a bad idea (the film versions of “Carrie” aside) — we should afford our students their privacy, just as we adults want our privacy — and so that shouldn’t be an issue anyway, but, on that note, let me say that I recall, in junior-high-school P.E., being rather aroused by my naked male classmates, with whom I was forced to take communal showers. (Luckily, I never got an erection, if memory serves. [Yeah, that’s something that I think that I’d remember, given the homophobia of that time and place…])
The wingtards who falsely paint AB 1266 as allowing horny (straight) boys to take showers with girls and to use their restrooms overlook the fact that gay male students and lesbian students routinely take showers with and share restrooms with members of the sex to which they are attracted. Indeed, non-heterosexual students don’t have the option of showering with or using the restroom of the sex to which they are not attracted. And this has been the case forever. Duh.
AB 1266, if it stands — if it is not overturned by the voters (who tend to be significantly more trans-phobic than homophobic) — does have details to be worked out. For instance, what would be the criteria for a public school to have to acknowledge that a student is transgender? Would the student have to dress as and act as the gender the student claims? Or would the student’s word be enough? Would a psychological evaluation have to be done to determine that yes, indeed, this student is transgender?
And, of course, how would post-P.E. showers be worked out in schools that for some reason still have communal showers?
But these details are worth working out, because no student should experience discrimination that makes his or her getting a decent education difficult to even impossible.
AB 1266 is about much, much more than (presumably straight, horny) boys using the girls’ bathrooms (for sexual kicks), but, just as the wingnuts lie through their venom-filled fangs about same-sex marriage, which neither picks anyone’s pocket nor breaks anyone’s leg, the wingnuts lie about AB 1266.
Wingnut Randy Thomasson, for instance, of the Campaign for Children and Families (which sure sounds nice, like the Campaign for Puppies and Kittens), proclaims, on his hate group’s website (yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that Thomasson’s organization is a hate group), SaveCalifornia.com:
If you’re like me, you’re angry about the Democrats’ new law requiring transsexual school bathrooms on every public school campus.
As you know, AB 1266 — cobbled together by homosexual-bisexual-transsexual activists, the immoral teachers’ unions, and their Democrat [sic] state representatives, who control California state government — forces all K-12 government schools to permit biological boys into girls’ restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams, and biological girls into boys’ restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams. …
That is, of course, a wildly gross exaggeration of AB 1266’s actual intent, “to permit biological boys into girls’ restrooms, showers,” etc., and to permit “biological girls into boys’ restrooms, showers,” etc.
Thomasson’s manipulative, lying rhetoric Orwellianly doesn’t even allow you to consider the fact, the reality, that there are biological females who consider themselves to be males and vice-versa. No, the “Democrat” Party, you see, just wants to turn our public schools into sex orgies! After all, we all know how “immoral” those teachers’ unions are!
Yes, this is hate speech. This is language that, as the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly states, increases the likelihood of hate crimes being directed at a certain group (in this case, non-gender-conforming individuals [and non-heterosexuals, too]).
I hope that the haters don’t get enough valid signatures on their hateful referendum. If they do, just as was the case with Proposition Hate (which Thomasson supported also, of course), at the minimum, millions of dollars will be blown on the ballot-measure campaigning.
And while I’d love to think that a majority of California’s voters would uphold AB 1266 if it went to the November 2014 ballot, as I have noted, the typical American these days unfortunately is more accepting of a gender-conforming non-heterosexual than he or she is of a non-gender-conforming individual, especially a transgender individual.
“Gay is the new black,” left-wing radio show host Randi Rhodes was saying almost a decade ago, when George W. Bush used same-sex marriage as a huge wedge issue in his 2004 “re”-election campaign (even though his campaign manager at that time, Ken Mehlman, is gay [Mehlman, whose treason I will never forgive, came out in 2010]).
We’ve come a considerable way on equality for gay men and lesbians since then. Illinois just this week became the 15th state (in addition to the District of Columbia and some other jurisdictions within states) to legalize same-sex marriage, and ding, dong, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) is dead, and so is the euphemistically named “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).
But in most jurisdictions of the United States it’s still wide-open season on transgender individuals, and AB 1266 is a step toward the realization of actual liberty and actual justice for all — an idea and an ideal that the wingnutty, treasonous haters always have hated.
Update (Saturday, November 9, 2013):
In case you doubt anything that I wrote, above know that yesterday, in front of a local store, I saw a stupid white man, a “tea-party”-looking type, collecting anti-AB 1266 petition signatures. His hand-drawn sign, which he’d affixed to his table, called for “no co-ed bathrooms,” which is not, of course, the heart and soul of AB 1266, and hilariously, he also had written on his sign, “boys in boys and girls in girls,” which sure looked like an advocacy of homosexuality to me, but which meant “boys in boys’ bathrooms and girls in girls’ bathrooms.” (These are the same fucktards, of course, who didn’t know what “teabagging” means…)
Anyway, this asshole, of course, was totally misrepresenting AB 1266, and so when he shouted to me and my same-sex partner as we passed by his table, “All you have to do is sign [the petition]!”, I remarked to him, “I have read the law. You are totally misrepresenting it.”
To this he had no response, which is not a surprise, since the use of words isn’t his strong suit. (Lying and hating are his talents.)
If you think that non-gender-conforming students don’t have any significant problems in our public schools, know that in Oakland this past week, a 16-year-old thug set fire to the skirt that an 18-year-old was wearing while the latter was riding a public bus. The 18-year-old, whose birth name is Luke Fleischman, reportedly considers him-/herself neither male nor female, but “agender” or of “nonbinary gender,” and goes by the name Sasha.
Sasha now is in a burn unit in San Francisco with second- and third-degree burns. (I would contribute to Sasha’s recovery fund, but they’ve met their goal and aren’t accepting any more donations right now.)
This shit happened right here in California, and it’s exactly this kind of shit that AB 1266 was meant to stop.
But the “tea-party” traitors and their ilk are perfectly OK with gender-conformity-related persecution, even such persecution of minors, continuing. (Because Jesus and God want it that way!)
But probably more common that such attacks as the one on Sasha are such incidents as the eighth-grader in Kansas who recently was suspended from school for carrying a purse. Reports a local news outlet:
A 13-year-old Kansas eighth grader says he was suspended from school for carrying a purse.
Skylar Davis says the Vera Bradley purse is his form of expression. He adds that girls carry purses, so he should be able to do the same. Skylar’s vice-principal disagreed and told him to stop carrying the bag.
When Skylar refused, he was suspended. His mother questions the suspension because she found no mention of bags or purses in the school handbook. She also questions the timing since Skylar has been carrying the bag since August.
The school has not commented on the suspension.
So fuck, not only do our non-gender-conforming students have to take prejudice, discrimination and abuse from their peers, who at least perhaps can be at least partially excused for their actions because of their immaturity, but our non-gender-conforming students have to experience such treatment even from the so-called “adults” whose duty it is to foster their well-being. (This news story, by the way, leads me to believe that very little has changed in many if not most American public schools since my bigoted asshole of a principal in junior high school tried to talk me out of taking home economics.)
I hope that Skylar’s family sues the school for the suspension that was based upon prejudice, discrimination and bigotry. And the chauvinistic vice principal needs to be reprimanded at the very least, and such suspensions need to cease and desist.