California’s Democratic governor signed into law a bill requiring California K-12 schools to provide gender neutral bathrooms by 2026.
“[O]n or before July 1, 2026, each school district, county office of education, and charter school, including charter schools operating in a school district facility, maintaining any combination of classes from grades 1 to 12, inclusive, to provide and maintain at least one all-gender restroom for voluntary pupil use at each of its schoolsites…,” the bill reads.
Gov. Gavin Newsom claims the bill will expand the already strict enforcement of protections for LGBT kids in the Golden State.
While estimates vary regarding the cost of creating gender neutral bathrooms, a fully-funded project in Loudoun County Virginia has budgeted $11 million to renovate just five bathrooms in the school district to comply with gender neutral requirements, reported WUSA News 9.
In addition to cost concerns, the requirements that the stalls, which typically reach all the way to the ground, can be locked from the inside, cause some to warn that the bathrooms will create safety hazards for students.
“Why don’t you call single stall locked toilet closure what they are going to be, drug rooms and sexual assault rooms,” one parent warned the Loudoun County School District, reported WUSA.
The California bathroom gender bill comes as several school districts in the state try to restrict bathroom usage to biological birth sex, while also requiring school districts to notify parents of gender identity changes of kids.
In August, for example, the Murietta Valley School District approved a policy which requires the school to notify parents of any gender identity changes which don’t comport with the child’s gender assigned at birth, in addition to restricting bathroom usage.
“The stakes are really high when you have young kids who are flirting with these different ideations about what their gender is at a very young age because right now, the state of California, for whatever reason, is intent on allowing minors to alter who they are physically,” school board clerk Nicolas Pardue said during the meeting at which the vote was held, according to the Christian Post.
Newsom, however, was praised by Republicans for vetoing a separate bill that would have allowed courts to consider parental support of gender identity changes during child custody disputes.
According to Politico, Newsom said in his veto message that judges had discretion to consider the issue but he didn’t think it was wise “to dictate — in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic” to judges who already had broad discretion to consider parental fitness.