By Assemblyman Tim Donnelly
Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will allow, after Jan. 1, 2014, any K-12 student who identifies his or her gender as something opposite of what his actual sex is access to any bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams.
Allowing teenage boys and girls in the same locker room, showering side by side, is a bad idea. In fact, AB 1266 is a recipe for disaster.
This will take the normal hormonal battles raging inside every teenager and pour gasoline onto those simmering coals. The right to privacy enjoyed by every student will be replaced by the right to be ogled.
No one seems to be able to explain how this new law helps anyone, and opposition is hitting its pinnacle as many parents are just finding out about it. My 13- and 16-year-old boys were horrified at the idea of sharing a bathroom and locker room with a member of the opposite sex, after having discussed AB 1266 with them.
While trying to address a concern of less than 2 percent of the population, California is now forcibly violating the rights of the other 98 percent. Many of the parents I have heard from within the last few days have literally pulled their kids out of public schools and have enrolled them in homeschool and private school programs. My boys, who went back to the public school after many years away, will not be returning.
And as a result, the decline in attendance and enrollment is likely to negatively impact K-12 public school funding given a good portion of it comes from the ADA federal grant that pays the schools proportionally for attendance.
It is completely unreasonable to expect teenagers, who are uncomfortable with themselves at this age, to accept this level of privacy invasion. After all, in the Capitol building, not only do they not allow men in the women’s bathroom, the women must enter a code to access their restrooms.
A Los Angeles Times article stated recently that “the Assembly has a bathroom designated as gender-neutral, but it’s inconveniently in the basement of the Capitol.”
Ironically, the same politicians who want to end discrimination have actually discriminated against the majority of people who are uncomfortable with the provisions of AB 1266.
Some of my most pressing questions are: What are the long-term repercussions of this measure? Will some kids be too embarrassed to use the bathroom or locker rooms, knowing that a member of the opposite sex could enter any time? Could this create unneeded anxiety with students, creating a massive learning distraction? Will creating gender neutral facilities increase the likelihood of a sexual assault on campus?
Every way you analyze this bill, I can only conclude that its provisions are a bad idea. In a state competing for the bottom three spots in educational achievement, this is nothing more than a massive distraction and will only detract from students’ education.
It is likely to hurt the very people it purports to help. Certainly, there is a more sensitive way to address their concerns individually as opposed to turning every other student’s life upside down.
When I was in high school, we had a girl on our varsity soccer team. In every way, she proved she was not only my equal on that team, but my better. She was an amazing person who earned my respect, and we eventually became close friends.
She taught me how to dig deeper, work harder and improve my game and was also the key to my earning the final spot on the highly competitive varsity team the next fall. But she did not shower with the boys or use the boys’ bathroom. That would have made no sense then, and it makes even less sense now.
Some things should be left to the discretion of the adults on-site to come up with a private accommodations for the few, rather than public humiliation for the many.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is a Republican California state assemblyman representing the 33rd District.