A new California law that took effect earlier this month expands the rights of transgender students, allowing them to participate on sports teams and use school facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to each student’s gender identity, and not necessarily the gender listed on the student’s record.
But Glendale school officials, who plan to adhere to the new law, said it won’t create many changes in the district.
While the law is more specific than others that already protect students’ rights, local schools have already been recognizing the rights of transgender students, according to Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan.
“For us, it’s just business as usual,” he said.
For Carolyn Laub, executive director for the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the law paves the way for school districts across the state to adopt “best practices” for when students come out as transgender, she said.
Laub, whose national organization supports youth-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs at schools across the country, said that as students notify educators at school about their transition, the process becomes a personal one that entails the student and his or her parents developing a plan for letting school administrators, teachers and others know about the student’s new name and pronoun they should be called by.
Laub said the publicity surrounding the law has helped lead to greater awareness of transgender students, and inform parents and community members to become aware of what schools would do to support them.
“Students tend to be much more open-minded, [or have] grown up with somebody who is transgender,” Laub said. “There are more concerns by some of the parents who haven’t thought about this before… I think it’s really helping the public understand these are young people and children that want so many of the things other kids want.”
Glendale Unified School Board President Nayiri Nahabedian confirmed that the school district will abide by the new law.
“We want to make sure we are caring in the way we approach every one of our students as we move forward,” she said. “Every situation is unique and our teachers and our administrators are attentive to each situation and mindful of how every child in the classroom is impacted, period.”
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