by Paula Fernandez
On September 23, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom approved a new law that would require every private and public school, including county offices of education and charter schools, to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom on campuses on or prior to July 1, 2026. This applies to all school facilities that provide education for any combination of classes from kindergarten thru twelfth grades.
The bill, known as SB-760, was introduced by Senator Josh Newman on February 17, 2023. “Schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, one where they’re able to focus on learning and where they’re encouraged to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” said Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). “Let’s face it— at some point during a typical 8-hour school day, everyone is going to have to go. By requiring all California K-12 schools to provide gender-inclusive restroom facilities on campus, we’ll ensure the well-being of our LGBTQ+ and non-binary students and ensure safer school communities for everyone.”
With current law, California schools let students use restrooms based on their gender, but they don’t have to have gender-neutral bathrooms. This can be tough for students who don’t fit into the usual male or female categories because they might not have bathrooms they feel comfortable using.
The passing of this law is a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity in California schools. Providing gender-neutral bathrooms acknowledges the existence and rights of LGBTQ+ youth. This will help foster a more inclusive and understanding school environment, potentially reducing incidents of bullying or discrimination based on gender identity. Just knowing a bathroom can be used without fear or judgment could help reduce stress and improve the mental and emotional well-being for LGBTQ+ youth. This law helps recognize and meet the needs of LGBTQ+ and non-binary students, showing a step forward towards a future that includes everyone more fairly. It might also inspire other states to think about making similar positive changes.
Many of the youth StandUp for Kids works with identify as LGBTQ+ and non-binary. StandUp for Kids is a non-profit organization that aims to help at-risk and homeless youth through street outreach, and providing services such as mentoring, educational, and housing support. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, are interested in volunteering, or making a financial donation, please visit the Orange County chapter’s website at https://www.standupforkids.org/orange-county/ or email Perla Rojas, Business Development & Strategy Manager, at [email protected].