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California court dismisses challenge to school gender identity discrimination law

[JURIST] A California court on Monday dismissed [opinion, PDF] a lawsuit challenging a state law that prohibits discrimination based on gender orientation or identity in public schools. Judge Shelleyanne Chang of the Sacramento County Superior Court [official website] said that the challenge to California Education Code sections 220 and 210.7 [text] brought by Advocates for Faith and Freedom [advocacy website] failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The plaintiffs alleged [complaint, PDF] that two students in California public schools had suffered an invasion of privacy and threat to their safety as a result of the addition of gender identity to the meaning of "gender" used in the school system's anti-discrimination measures. Finding that the challenge should be filed against the school district and not the state government, Chang said that the:

plaintiffs do not allege in their complaint that [a male student] either observed or was observed by the "biologically female student" in the locker room, or that [the student] was even aware of the other student's alleged presence in the locker room. Plaintiffs merely allege that [the student] "was present in the locker room while the female student was changing." ... Thus, the pleading is inadequate to allege any invasion of privacy, let alone a "serious" one.

Chang also found that the challenge on personal safety grounds should also be dismissed because it was "conclusory" and that "it is unclear to whose safety plaintiffs are referring."

The changes in question came as a part of legislation [SB 777 materials], introduced in the California State Senate in February 2007 by then-senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) [personal website]. The measure passed in the House [AB 394 materials] and in the Senate in September 2007, and was signed by the governor [California Chronicle report] in October. Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed the suit challenging the state's definition of gender for discrimination purposes in April 2008, five months after the law went into effect.

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