Gender identity: District prepares to institute law

Written by Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate March 18, 2014 12:17 pm

A controversial new law that addresses gender identity in California public schools will not result in boys using the girls locker room or vice versa, Del Norte’s superintendent of schools said this week.

Efforts to repeal Assembly Bill 1266, the Schools Success and Opportunity Act, stalled last week with those hoping to overturn the law failing to gather enough valid signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot. 

As a result, the Del Norte County Unified School District is working with its legal counsel to review and update its non-discrimination policy, said Superintendent Don Olson. But he said he doesn’t anticipate drastic changes in Del Norte schools, although new bathrooms may be installed at some.

 

“Everybody seems to be focused on this transgender restroom and locker room usage, but really the main point of the policy is we can’t discriminate against any gender,” Olson said. “If you’re a female and want to play football on the football team, you have to be allowed to try out.”

Olson said he would return to the Board of Trustees with proposed changes to the district’s non-discrimination policy either March 13 or March 27. He said he currently doesn’t know of any transgender students attending Del Norte schools.

The law requires K-12 schools to allow students, including transgender students, to participate in sex-segregated programs and activities, such as sports teams and competitions, consistent with the gender they identify with. It also allows students to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with the gender they identify with.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill last August.

Opponents, who have dubbed AB 1266 the “transgender bathroom law,” contend that it will result in an invasion of student privacy. A coalition called Privacy for All Students led a failed referendum effort to repeal the law.

Del Norte County Supervisor Roger Gitlin brought a resolution opposing AB 1266 before the Board of Supervisors in October. The Board tabled the resolution, stating that implementing the law fell to the jurisdiction of the School Board.

According to Olson, implementing the new law may mean installing single-stall restroom facilities at every middle school in the district and at Del Norte and Sunset high schools. There are currently no plans to allow students to use a restroom for the opposite gender, he said.

As for how implementing AB 1266 will impact athletics, Olson said girls can already try out and play in traditionally male sports, such as football and wrestling, at Del Norte High School. A girl currently wrestles for Del Norte, he noted.

Nicole Mattz has been on the wrestling team for her freshman, sophomore and junior years, assistant wrestling coach Clint Schaad said. Since Schaad began coaching, several girls have wrestled, but only two or three have competed for a full season.

“We treat them like anybody else,” he said. “It’s all the same sport as far as how to wrestle and how scoring is done and what to expect.”

Female wrestling is “growing by leaps and bounds” at the high school and college levels, Schaad said. The California Interscholastic Federation holds special tournaments for female wrestlers and allows them to participate in boys tournaments. But, he said, CIF doesn’t currently allow boys to participate in girls-only tournaments.

“Where I think (AB 1266) would have an effect is how they would handle gender identification,” Schaad said. “If there’s someone we perceived as a male who gender-identifies with a female, how would they allow them to wrestle at girls state meets?”

Girls have played on the Del Norte High football team as well, said Athletics Director Robert Hadfield.

“I’ll follow the rules and abide by the law,” Hadfield said.

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