Sen. Newman Introduces Legislation to Guarantee Access to All-Gender Restrooms for K-12 Students
Sacramento, Calif.— As Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Senator Josh Newman introduced SB 760 today, which requires all K-12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours.
“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.”
Under current law, although California schools must grant students access to restroom facilities consistent with their gender, schools are not explicitly required to provide gender-neutral restrooms. As a consequence, the frequent lack of easily accessed, explicitly gender-neutral restrooms at schools across the state remains problematic for students who do not identify with the traditional binary genders.
Survey data shows that 45% of LGBTQ+ and non-binary students actively avoid using gender-segregated school bathrooms because it makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The lack of unstigmatized access to facilities appropriate to a student’s gender identity can cause not only emotional stress but physical harm as well, in the form of dehydration, urinary tract infections, or other health problems, not to mention the academic harm in the form of truancy and diminished grades on the part of students who miss or avoid school in response to those stresses.
“While states across the country are passing discriminatory policies attacking LGBTQ+ students, especially trans and non-binary youth, California is doubling down to ensure that schools are safe for all students to succeed,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, a co-sponsor of SB 760. “SB 760 will ensure that students have access to an all-gender restroom without fear of harassment. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Newman and Superintendent Thurmond in championing this first-of-its-kind legislation to create a safe and supportive environment for all students.”
In response to growing concerns that some students are not able to safely access restrooms at schools, the California Department of Education (CDE) established the Safe School Bathrooms Ad Hoc Committee in November of 2021, comprised of California students, parents, school employees, CDE staff, and other key stakeholders.
“Schools should be a welcoming, safe place for all students - this includes access to bathrooms,” said California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, a co-sponsor of SB 760. “We've heard from our LGBTQ+ youth and through their leadership in conjunction with the work of our Safe School Bathroom committee, and we are pleased to sponsor this bill which will have California lead the nation by providing adequate access to gender-inclusive bathrooms on all campuses."
Under SB 760, all K-12 schools statewide will be required to provide accessible all-gender bathrooms for students to use safely and comfortably. Specifically, SB 760 mandates that there be a sufficient number of all-gender restrooms to accommodate all students who want to use them and that these restrooms remain unlocked during school hours.
“Gender neutral restrooms are essential to show support for LGBTQ and non-binary youth,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), coauthor of SB 760. “Every child and adolescent should have access to a bathroom that comports with their gender identity, and for some young people that means bathrooms that don’t force them to into a binary choice. This bill is a much needed step to promote inclusion in our schools.”
SB 760 is co-authored by Senator Caroline Menjivar, Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymember Corey Jackson and Assemblymember Evan Low.
To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Lizzie Cootsona at 916.651.4029.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“From seventh through ninth grade, I avoided using the bathroom at my school. Though I had not yet come out as transgender––even to my family–– I was uncomfortable using either the male or female restrooms. The only all-gender restroom at my school was exclusively for teachers, was kept locked, and was located behind the desks of administrative staff. To use that rest room I would have had to come out as transgender to the faculty—something I was not ready to do,” said Sam S., high school student, and a member of the Superintendent’s Safe School Bathroom Ad Hoc Committee. “LGBTQ youth often face bullying in school, and the lack of accessible all-gender restrooms makes school overtly unwelcoming, leading to increased rates of dropout, homelessness, and suicide. All California students deserve to access education with dignity.”
“Research across all domains of student wellbeing shows us that students - particularly queer and transgender students - having free use of a safe and accessible gender-inclusive restroom on their campus has a positive impact. Too often, students do not have access to inclusive facilities. These students suffer not only mental health risks, including depression, anxiety, lower grades, and increased suicidality, but also physical health risks, including chronic urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and more from avoiding restrooms. California can pave the way for protecting all students, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, and their fundamental right to privacy, safety, and access to inclusive restrooms,” said Benjamin K., post-graduate student, and member of the Superintendent’s Safe School Bathroom Ad Hoc Committee.
State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in Fullerton with his wife and daughter.