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Eyewitness News Investigates: Transgender Law Confusion

The two largest local school districts are split on implementing AB 1266.
Confusion over the status of California's transgender law, Assembly Bill 1266.  Local school districts disagree on whether it should be implemented right now.  A group fighting the bill is in the middle of trying to get the issue put on ballots this November.  Now, the two largest local school districts are split on their interpretation of the law.

Students at Fresno Unified go back to school on Monday, and the district said in a statement Friday it will comply with the controversial law.  It allows transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the sex they identify with.

The district said, quote: "Fresno Unified is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students.  It is the policy of the district to prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment, including discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression, in all aspects of its educational programs and activities, including extracurricular activities such as athletics.  Board Policy 0410 states:
 
The Governing Board is committed to equal opportunity for all individuals in education. All aspects of the district’s school environment, including all academic, extra-curricular and school-sponsored programs, activities and practices shall be free from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression or genetic information; the perception of one or more of such characteristics; or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
 
The district encourages all students to be involved in extra-curricular activities and athletics and in fact adopted Goal #2 which states:  “All students will engage in arts, activities and athletics.” 
 
Consistent with district non-discrimination policy and Goal #2, the district’s school sites are taking all necessary steps to adhere to the changes made by AB 1266, the new gender identity non-discrimination legislation that took effect on January 1, 2014.   The rights of the district’s transgender students will be accorded as outlined in that legislation."

A district spokesperson also said Fresno unified will allow transgender students to use the facilities they feel most comfortable in.  The district has no expectation of how many transgender students may request the new access.  The law applies to grades K-12.  

Meanwhile, Clovis Unified says it will not make any changes to it's current system regarding transgender students.  Right now, those who feel uncomfortable are allowed to use a private restroom or changing area, which apparently exists in every building.  District wide, only four or five students use private facilities.

In a statement, Clovis Unified says quote: "There is no clear cut case law as to the status of a statute that becomes effective in the midst of a referendum campaign to repeal that law.  In light of the uncertainty around this situation, Clovis Unified is continuing to utilize our existing practices that have effectively met the needs of our transgender students for years.  We will continue to watch this situation closely, and comply with the law whatever the outcome of the referendum effort."
 
According to the group "Privacy for All Students," which is trying to get the law on the November ballot, schools shouldn't implement the law while it's still in the referendum process.

"The referendum is in the constitution. The minute the signatures were filed the bill was put on hold.  And until the state certifies we have not made it to the ballot, until then this law is on hold," said Karen England, co-chair. 

The Fresno County Office of Education didn't want to comment on the issue, saying it's up to each individual district. 
 
We'll know by February 24th whether this controversial law will go in front of voters in November.
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