California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law Senate Bill 760, mandating K-12 schools to provide gender-neutral bathrooms by July 2026. With this action, California governor mandates gender-neutral school bathrooms by 2026, further cementing the state's commitment to expanding protections for the LGBTQ community. The law is among several recently signed by Newsom to enhance the rights and protections of LGBTQ+ individuals in California.
California is proud to have some of the most robust lawsin the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community.- California Governor Gavin Newsom
Under the new law, “each school district, county office of education, and charter school” is required to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom on campus on or before July 1, 2026.
These bathrooms must be available for use during school hours and school functions when students are present.
The law permits the temporary closure of any gender-neutral bathroom only for documented student safety concerns, immediate threats to student safety, or repairs. Additionally, the law mandates that the gender-neutral bathroom should have signage identifying it as open to all genders and be accessible to all students. Schools are also required to designate a staff member to ensure the bathroom's compliance with state law.
State Sen. Josh Newman, who sponsored the law, said it is “only fair that everybody has access to a restroom without fear of outing, bullying, or stigmatization.”
Newman expressed hope that the law becomes a model for other states to help protect children.
Tony Hoang, executive director of the LGBTQ civil rights group Equality California, asserted that the governor’s action sends a “clear message” that California is committed to protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Hate-filled attacks will not be tolerated and we will continue protecting and ensuring the safety of all members of the LGBTQ+ community.- Tony Hoang, Executive Director of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Group Equality, California
The issue of bathroom access has been a national debate focal point for years. In 2016, North Carolina’s law requiring individuals to use public bathrooms corresponding with their birth certificate's gender in multiple-occupancy rooms faced widespread criticism and was subsequently repealed.
Despite these progressive steps in California, the governor vetoed a billa day after signing the new protections, which would have mandated state judges to consider a parent’s affirmation of their child's gender identity when granting custody and visitation.
In his veto statement, Newsom emphasized that the state’s courts are already required to consider a child’s health, safety, and welfare, “including the parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity.”
Newsom also urged caution against the Executive and Legislative branches dictating specific legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply, warning that this strategy could be used to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.
The signing of this law in California occurs amidst various state policies regarding LGBTQ students and bathroom access. Recently, a federal judge blocked the enforcement of an Idaho law prohibiting transgender students from using public school bathrooms that do not align with their gender assigned at birth.
Newsom’s signing of this law underlines California's commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community amidst ongoing national debates and varying state policies on related issues. This law stands as a progressive step, aiming to ensure safety, inclusivity, and accessibility for all students, reinforcing their rights and well-being in the educational environment.
Advocates hope it serves as a blueprint for other states to follow, fostering a more inclusive and supportive atmosphere for all students nationwide.