In 2013, Equality California and its coalition partners successfully advocated for the passage of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB1266), which went into effect on January 1, 2014.

AB1266 ensures that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

Following the passage of AB1266, opponents of the law attempted to repeal it through efforts to force a ballot vote. Equality California and its Support All Students Coalition partners worked tirelessly to ensure this effort failed to qualify for the ballot so that the law could be implemented. Because of the work of the coalition, the repeal efforts failed, and AB1266 is being fully and successfully implemented across the state.

To learn more about AB1266 and transgender students in the Golden State, we reached out to Tony Hoang, Equality California’s Chief of Staff.

Equality Federation:  What is the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266)? What does it do?
Tony Hoang of Equality California:
California's School Success and Opportunity Act — also known as AB 1266 — ensures that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate. The law is modeled on policies and practices that are already working well in schools across the state, and gives important guidance to educators so they can work with students and families on a case-by-case basis.

EF: What is the Support All Students Coalition? Who is a part of this coalition?
TH:
The Support All Students campaign is comprised of a coalition of almost 100 state and national organizations backing California's new law that ensures fair chances for all children to do well in school. The broad coalition includes LGBT organizations, racial justice organizations, statewide teacher and parent organizations, faith leaders and others committed to ensuring that all kids have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

EF: What role has Equality California played as a part of this coalition?
TH:
Equality California — along with the Transgender Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GSA Network, and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center — is among the leaders of the Support All Students campaign. In addition, EQCA was one of the lead organizations working to pass the bill from its inception and played the facilitator role for the regular briefing calls for the coalition.

EF: How did working as a coalition help to successfully pass this bill? What were the opportunities and limitations of working with other organizations?
TH:
A broad coalition brought a range of expertise and the widest possible community of support to the efforts to pass the bill. We had legal, advocacy, organizing, and student support organizations all bringing their unique perspective to the efforts. The opportunities were greater reach and richer expertise, while the limitations were the slower pace at which a coalition can function when, at times, quick decisions are needed.

EF: What has been the impact of AB1266 in schools?
TH:
As a result of AB 1266, school administrators and teachers better understand their obligations under the law. Students and their families also understand the protections to which they are entitled and can more clearly request. We are seeing many new districts adopt fully trans-inclusive policies, offer trainings for administrators and educators, and implement model policies and guidance.

EF: How is Equality California working with the coalition to ensure the bill is fully implemented, despite attacks from opponents?
TH
: EQCA is working with the coalition to leverage the resources the California School Boards Association has put out and the forthcoming FAQ from the California Department of Education. Our working group is coordinating responses to educators, administrators, students and families as they arise. We are also developing work to tell the success stories of transgender students being fully included in schools as awareness with and compliance of the law becomes the standard across the state.

Congratulations to Equality California and your coalition partners for ensuring transgender students have opportunities to succeed in school!

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Jenn Curtin

Jenn is the Program Associate at Equality Federation. In her role, she strengthens our major donor program, assists the communications team in the implementation of digital media programs and provides support to the board as board liaison.

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