The Attack on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth in California
by Paulina Angel
printed August 24, 2023
There is an attack going on here in California. The victims: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth. The seeds of this attack were planted during February when Assemblyman Bill Essayli of Corona submitted Assembly Bill 1314, Gender Identity: Parental Notification.
The next steps Essayli took to see his bill in action was to try to get it passed in a regional level to prove that there was support behind it. He found an ally in Barbara Hale, the then President of the Riverside County Board of Education who represents both Murrieta Valley and Temecula Valley, who submitted a resolution to be voted at a BOE meeting that was taking place in the City of Indio during early April. But the resolution died 6-1 when representatives and LGBTQ leaders of The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, Trans Community Project, Planned Parenthood and Equality California spoke up against the resolution, The bill itself, would also die in committee two weeks later. You may think that it is over after its double defeat, but it was only the beginning.
In recent reports, it was discovered that an Anti-LGBTQ group reached out to the Desert Sands Unified, a school district in the Greater Coachella Valley, during May to pass a resolution similar to what was presented at the BOE meeting, this is still being monitored. Two months later, the Chino Valley School District in San Bernardino voted 4-1 on their own resolution, regardless of opposition from leaders including State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, whom board president Sonja Shaw had thrown out of the meeting. A couple of weeks later, Murrieta Valley would also pass a resolution that is a copy of what was passed in Chino Valley.
Back in 2011, one of the first pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 48: FAIR Education Act, was signed into law by Gov. Brown, this Bill places a ban on classroom instructions and other school activities that promote discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 2 years later, Assembly Bill 1266: School Success and Opportunity Act was signed into law, which extends gender identity and gender expression discrimination protection to Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming, K-12 Students in Public Schools. Since then, there have been more than 10 Bills passed protecting LGBTQ Youth with a majority of them are educational based.
In a swift move, these school districts had violated these bills, and thus discriminating against LGBTQ students in the district. By doing so, this opens a panic and a heightened threat against the wellbeing and mental health of students, which could potentially lead to students dropping out of school, or worst, Suicide. Not many kids feel comfortable with coming out to parents, and kids are a whole lot smarter than what society gives them credit for. Youth are understanding the way of the world, as well as their own identity as a human being.
At the age of 5, I had a clear idea about the world around me, as well as who I was. I recognized that I was born in the wrong body, and what I was didn’t align to what I felt about myself spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I really wish that I knew someone that I could have turned to and talk about what I felt, it was hard going through my youth worrying about a secret that I couldn’t share and it tore me up inside, which caused me to develop social anxiety issues. But if I knew that I could have gone to my teacher or a school counselor, to talk about it, I feel that things would have been a whole lot different.
Today, we have educators that are now trained in Childhood Development, that have since been updated to include LGBTQ Youth. Youth now have the option to talk to a school counselor or their favorite teacher, without worrying of a trust being broken. But its people like Assembly Member Bill Essayli, a GOP politician, who wants to make a name for himself. And for what? He’s not thinking about the youth that’ll get hurt in the process, it is not about the parents, of which, if parents today are as understanding, then there shouldn’t be any problem; but this is all just to get his name out there, to be one of the new faces in the GOP that can create problems with the LGBTQ community. Luckily for the LGBTQ Community, we have many top advocacy organizations across California monitoring these new attacks, and ready to be present whenever another resolution should be heard. It maybe be at the time, Isolated in Riverside County, but so far there are talks of similar resolutions being presented in San Diego County and Orange County.
I just have one thing to say to Bill Essayli: Bring It, because the LGBTQ Community in California is mighty and well organized.
Paulina Angel is a Transgender Activist and Musician based in the Coachella Valley. She serves as Executive Director of Trans Community Project, Board Member of Palm Springs Pride, Co-Founder of East Coachella Valley Pride, #Out4MentalHealth Co-Lead at Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance and Co-Founder of the Every One Initiative with Goldenvoice. She is also a former Student Senate Member of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges in Sacramento.
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