Politics

California To Mandate A Third Bathroom In Schools?

California does it again! This time, the issue is bathrooms – and the latest proposal will make it the first state in the nation … to do what? To require all schools have at least THREE bathrooms.

It all stems from SB 760, just introduced in the legislature by Democrat State Sen. Josh Newman. It would require all K-12 schools in the state to have at last one “gender-neutral” restroom. If the measure passes, it would be the first of its kind in the country. Some states and cities already have such restrooms in their schools but not as a result of a state requirement. They are strictly voluntary.

Newman, who is chair of the California Senate Committee on Education, is quoted as saying that students who are questioning their gender or sexuality face anxiety, stigma and shame from other students if they can’t use the bathroom of their choice. He calls the current situation “… a terrible place to put kids.”

That position reflects the results of the 2019 National School Climate Survey, which found that 45% of those students actively avoided gender-specific bathrooms because they felt unsafe. Another similar survey, in 2021, had similar results as did a survey in California.

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Just prior to Newman’s introduction of the bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study that found high rates of violence and mental health challenges among LGBTQ+ students. It reported one in four of those students told of being bullied, as opposed to more than one in 10 of heterosexual students, and rates of “sadness” were nearly double those of straight students. The report also found that almost half of LGBTQ+ students seriously considered suicide.

Advocates of Newman’s bill say they hope the gender-neutral bathrooms could ultimately lead to a decline of harassment and mental health issues among LGBTQ+ students.

This is a problem that apparently exists in our schools, but unless adults have contact with such students, they are probably not aware of the situation.

There is growing national attention in the media about LGBTQ students, but at this point, there is no national push for corrections to rectify the system.

One aspect of this current move is money. I haven’t seen any estimates of what it would cost school districts to equip every school in their jurisdiction with the new facilities, but there is no doubt it would be substantial. With taxes for schools increasing, this would add fuel to that fire! The rising cost of living is something that affects every Californian – indeed, all Americas. This new requirement will not help.

In addition, there is the issue of how to explain to all students, especially the younger ones, the need for or purpose of such extra bathroom facilities.

Remember the days when the issues of school concerned “readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic”? We thought those three were a bother, but compared to what we are facing today, they were nothing.

Can our children read? Write? Do arithmetic? Know and understand history? Now they have to know about sex – not the simple “birds and the bees” but all the intricacies of LGBTQ. It’s hard enough for parents to deal with such issues; pity the poor teachers who will have to face those same questions from the children.

If Sen. Newman’s measure gets through the process, SB 760 would head to the desk of the governor by the end of summer.

It’s too easy for politicians to “mandate” such things from their political podiums, but it falls to the people on ground level to deal with them. I have no doubt that when the reality of such state mandates become clear locally, there will be a backlash – and it won’t be pretty.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.


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