The board of trustees of the Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) voted 4-1 on Monday, Jan. 13, with Richard Goodlake abstaining, to approve new Administrative Regulation 5145.31, as a result of California Governor Jerry Brown signing Assembly Bill (AB) 1266 into law last year, allowing transgender youth to participate on whichever sports team and use whatever restroom and locker room facilities fit their gender identity, regardless of their birth gender.
FUHSD Superintendent Dale Mitchell, Ed.D. said in a written recommendation to the board, “Whether individuals agree or disagree with the law, the district has a responsibility to follow it. The administrative regulation and communication strategies are designed to support staff in implementing the legal requirements associated with this new law.”
AB 1266 first appeared on the FUHSD board agenda in October as an informational item, however, it was not brought forward for approval at that time due to widespread indications throughout the state that enough signatures might be gained to make it a ballot measure, resulting in a suspension of implementation. Since that did not occur, AB 1266 went into law on Jan. 1.
FUHSD’s new administrative regulation provides for privacy for students in keeping with their actual or perceived sexual orientation. It restricts school personnel from disclosing a student’s identity in that regards to others, including but not limited to other students, parents, and/or other school personnel, unless there is a specific “need to know.”
In the new guidelines, it reaffirms that FUHSD is required to maintain mandatory permanent pupil records which include the legal name of the pupil and the pupil’s sex. However, the district is to change a student’s official records in those if legal documentation is provided to demonstrate official change.
Schools can still maintain separate restroom facilities for male and female students, however students are to have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school. Also provides that “If a student feels that there is a reason or desire for increased privacy and safety, regardless of the underlying purpose or cause, the administrator is to provide the student with access to a reasonable alternative restroom such as a single stall “gender neutral” restroom or the health office restroom.
“In terms of physical changes to our facilities, there is no intention to immediately make any changes; we are going to be hopeful that we can work with students in order to make accommodations so that all students are comfortable and that we are fulfilling the expectations of the law,” said Mitchell. “At Ivy High School, because we are currently going through a modernization project, we are looking at establishing a non-gender restroom that can be used.”
Locker room use
In the same vein as restrooms, schools may maintain separate locker room facilities for male and female students, however, students are to be allowed access to the locker room facility that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school. However, is there is a reason or request for more privacy and safety, regardless of the reason, students are to be provided access to a reasonable alternative locker room situation, which could be a private area inside a locker room that is separated by a curtain, door, etc., or a nearby private area. Another alternative offered by the school could be a separate changing schedule so the student could utilize the locker room before or after other students.
As with restrooms, Mitchell said, “We are not, at the moment, making any facility changes at Fallbrook High School.” However, they will honor the requests of students and make appropriate arrangements.
Mitchell said the district staff has discussed the new law at length and worked to understand it and its implementation elements. In addition, two different legal firms were consulted with for understanding and direction and sample procedural guidelines from the Los Angeles Unified School District were taken into consideration.
Respecting all students needs and rights will be paramount for FUHSD administration, the superintendent said.
“Fundamentally we have to protect the rights of all students, that’s our primary goal,” said Mitchell.