A new California law AB 1266 changes the way transgender students are dealt with in every school in the state.
The new law goes into effect at the beginning of the New Year and could have a big impact on athletics.
School districts must consider a variety of situations. Suppose a male student-athlete is cut from a high school boys basketball team. Will AB 1266 allow this player to then tryout for the girls team? Randy Gilzean of the Chico Unified School District said that scenario is unlikely.
”Somebody that's been cut and tried out for the boys, I think that would be enough evidence to say, ‘No, that's not where they identified with,’” said Gilzean. “If they came out for the girls team for the first time, yes, that's a possibility.”
Thus far that hasn't happened because there have been both boys and girls teams in virtually every sport. But AB 1266 throws in a new twist. A student-athlete will be allowed, by law, to play for either the boys or girls team, depending on the gender with which he or she identifies.
”He would have to around school and in every case identify as a transgender transitioning to a girl,” explained Gilzean.
To some degree Gilzean and others in the Chico Unified School District have already dealt with this issue. There have been many girls who've played on the boys football team. They've been using the girls locker room to shower and dress. Gilzean predicts the future will see more changes in facilities.
”We're going to see a lot more uni-sex family-type bathrooms where you go in as a single bathroom as opposed to boys or girls bathrooms.”
At the high school level, a bylaw is already in effect through the California Interscholastic Federation that allows a process for transgender students to compete.
Northern Section Commissioner Elizabeth Kyle oversees 72 high schools, but has yet to come across one transgender athlete in her eight years with the CIF.
”Whether transgender athletes haven't asked to participate, whether that information is out there or not, I don't know,” said Kyle.
It’s hard to say how many student-athletes this new law will affect. Perhaps more transgender students will choose to participate now that the law is in effect. California schools will need to be ready.