Letter went out to families in the school district on Aug. 22 addressing California state laws

ATASCADERO — On Tuesday, Aug. 22, a letter from the Atascadero Unified School District went out to families with students attending Atascadero High School (AHS). The letter, written and signed by Superintendent Tom Butler, reminded parents and guardians of the California state laws the district follows regarding the gender identities of the students at AHS. 

At the AUSD school board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5, parents and residents addressed the school board trustees on the topic during Oral Communications from the Public. Both after and before the meeting, the district stated that the administration reached out to the families that shared concerns in a timely and professional manner. 

During that meeting, a majority of the speakers addressed the trustee board with concerns for their children’s safety, given the laws that state that students can use restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity and not the gender indicated on their school records. However, those concerned citizens also stated they wanted the transgender students to feel safe at school, too. 


Atascadero News has since obtained the letter referenced in the meeting.

“As you may know, our District has policies and regulations regarding transgender students’ access to locker rooms and restrooms. These rules follow California law and have done so for the past decade. However, I know some of you may have questions or are unfamiliar with this subject,” stated the letter.

The letter then cited California Education Code section 221.5, subdivision F. The part of the code reads as follows:  

A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1266 into law on Aug. 12, 2013. The bill gives transgender students legal rights to access sex-segregated facilities and activities consistent with their gender identities. The bill amends California Education Code section 221.5 to include subdivision F. California is the first state to enact legislation that allows students to access restrooms and sex-segregated activities depending on their gender identity. 

Atascadero News reached out to the district for clarifications regarding why the letter was sent to parents. 

In an emailed response, the district said, “The letter Superintendent Butler sent out on August 22nd was intended to clarify for our High School community that we do follow all state and federal laws as well as the California Education Code and our own non-discrimination policies when it comes to the use of our facilities.” 

The referenced letter continues to state:

“Consistent with California and federal law, Atascadero Unified School District Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5145.3 provide that all students be allowed equal access to the District’s academic, extracurricular, and other educational support programs, services, and activities.”

It continued, “As a public school district, all of our students are entitled to fully participate in our programs and activities equally regardless of their gender identity or any other protected characteristic. Our schools are intended to be a safe environment for all children.”   

You can read our full story on the Sept. 5 AUSD meeting at atascaderonews.com/news/education/atascadero-high-school/controversial-gender-identity-policies-spark-debate-at-ausd-meeting/

The district would not clarify any further or provide any additional details pertaining to the refrenced letter or parent concerns but said they are here to support all students in the AUSD and strive to make sure that they receive the best education possible. 

Atascadero News asked AUSD if it plans to add the California Education Code and its non-discrimination policies to a future AUSD meeting agenda for discussion. They did not respond to the question and instead said in email, “There were some parents that had questions with the state and federal laws and the education codes that are in place. The letter was sent out to provide clarification.”

The next AUSD meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Atascadero News is following this story and will provide more updates as they become available.