California Governor Newsom Mandates Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in K-12 Schools

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a mandate requiring all K-12 schools in the state to provide gender-neutral bathrooms. This legislation, which was signed on September 25th, is part of a broader package of bills aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ youths.

The new law expands upon existing legislation that allows students to use bathrooms aligning with their gender identity.

However, this latest bill goes a step further by explicitly requiring an additional gender-neutral option. The inspiration for this law came from an attempt by Chino Valley Unified to restrict transgender students’ access to certain bathrooms and sports facilities.

Chino Valley Unified, located in San Bernardino County, proposed a resolution in 2021 that would have required students to use the bathroom matching their biological sex.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond warned the district that such a policy would be “unlawful,” leading to its eventual failure. Despite this, the unsuccessful attempt to protect the privacy of female students inspired the law that Newsom signed over the weekend.

This summer, Chino Valley Unified became the first district to approve a controversial policy that requires schools to notify parents of students’ decisions regarding gender identity, such as the use of preferred pronouns.

This move has been met with many people criticizing it as an invasion of student privacy.

LGBTQ groups in the state, on the other hand, lauded the new law. Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang stated the following:

“While states across the nation are passing legislation that puts LGBTQ+ people and especially youth at risk, California is sending a clear message today — hate-filled attacks will not be tolerated and we will continue protecting and ensuring the safety of all members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

In addition to the gender-neutral bathroom law, Newsom also signed a law requiring foster parents to prove that they will support an LGBTQ child’s “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This law, known as SB 407, was introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener. It aims to ensure that LGBTQ foster youth are raised in supportive environments.

This law also includes measures, such as more follow-up from the Department of Social Services and specific consideration of LGBTQ youth’s needs in at-home assessments.