A groundbreaking law is passed in California to protect transgender students. It will allow transgender students grades K to 12 to choose the bathroom they prefer and join the sports team that matches their gender identity.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1266 on Monday, which will go into effect January 1, 2014.
“This legislation is about making sure kids know they are seen and that they matter and people care about their safety,” said Stonewall Alliance Center Program Coordinator Aydin Kennedy.
Aydin Kennedy is a transgender counselor, offering support services for the LGBT community. He says close to half his clients are transgender.
“The most vulnerable people in the community are the youth and trans youth, 50% of them will commit suicide, that’s terrifying,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy came out as a transgender man in 2008, he often shares his own experience with others to raise awareness for gender equality.
“Kids are not graduating because they don’t get their P.E. credits, because they can’t safely go into the locker room. They get beat up and we don’t think about what the bigger picture is,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy believes this new law will help transgender students succeed in school, something that could have helped him in high school.
“I was a three sport athlete so figuring out locker rooms was really difficult, so this legislation would have made a huge difference because it would have told me I mattered,” said Kennedy.
For Kennedy, this law is an important step to helping all transgender students.
“Sometimes people aren’t ready and I’m a firm believer that sometimes we need to lead so people are invited to follow,” said Kennedy.
For more information on Stonewall Alliance Center in Chico, visit their website: http://www.stonewallchico.org/