Bathroom Battle: How Districts Might Respond

Local Schools Look to Other Districts for Guidance

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Opponents of AB-1266 have made it clear:  allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice is not a change they can accept. 

"It's their babies," said Dr. Christine Lizardi Frazier, Kern County Superintendent of Schools. "So they're very concerned."

Frazier said she understands parents' concerns and frustrations. 

"I'm not saying everyone should accept this concept," Frazier said, "but that they be willing to work with their schools so that all children feel comfortable in the learning environment."

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools does not have the authority to set policy for individual districts but can offer guidance on how to implement change.  Some of that guidance comes from talking to other districts that have had similar policies on the books for several years.

"Our trans girls use the girls bathrooms, have girls names, wear girls clothes," said Dr. Judy Chiasson, human relations coordinator with the Los Angeles Unified School District.  "Similarly for our boys." 

Chiasson said in the ten years since the district established a policy, not a single conflict has been reported over transgender students using a particular bathroom. 

"Ninety-nine percent of the time nobody knows these kids are transgender," said Chiasson.  "So as far as the other students are concerned, they just see another student coming into the bathroom."

The LAUSD policy is fairly straightforward:  students may use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.  That blanket approach is not what Frazier is advising.  "I've been advising districts to be careful before sitting down and writing a policy," said Frazier.  "To really look at it on a case-by-case basis."

As for concerns that non-transgender students might take advantage of the new law, neither Frazier nor Chiasson predicts that will happen. 

"So far in the ten years I've never had that happen," said Chiasson.  "But because of this publicity, if somebody does try to pull it off, we'll address it."

What both women are asking of parents is to get informed and to ask questions. 

"What transgender kids want more than anything is to go to school like any other child," said Chiasson.  "So they're not going to draw attention to themselves."

"They need to see how they will truly react to a specific child, not a political issue," said Frazier.  "And I think that will resolve a great deal of this." 

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