Bathroom Sign
Bathroom Sign

The Bottom Line California Legislators Exert Control over Charter Schools through Bathroom Laws

Originally published at Real Clear Education

California K-12 public schools are now mandated by law to stock female menstrual products in male restrooms. Since biological males don’t menstruate, the law effectively encourages minor age girls to share restrooms with male classmates.

In a state that allowed the pandemic to erase almost six years of academic progress, where proficiency in math ranks 38th out of 50 states, and where proficiency in reading ranks 33rd out of 50 states, one can only wonder why California legislators would be more concerned about bathroom policy than they are about improving California’s dismal K-12 education record.

The mandate is buried in a little known “school maintenance” provision of the California Education Code that became effective at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, which required schools offering classes from grades 6 to 12 to provide “an adequate supply of menstrual products, available and accessible, free of cost, in all women’s restrooms and all-gender restrooms, and in at least one men’s restroom.”

The code applies to all school districts and notably includes charter schools — even though charter schools are intended to be exempt from most state and local regulations with respect to their daily operation and management. In fact, many would argue that their higher academic performance can be linked to their ability to operate under a separate set of values, with a high degree of freedom from state bureaucracy and ideological meddling.

This ideologically-driven bathroom law demonstrates the lengths to which California legislators will go to force gender ideology on California students. There is no compelling reason to place menstrual products in male restrooms — since menstrual products are only needed for biological females, whose privacy needs could be met by visiting the school-based health center or using an all-gender restroom, which California will soon require by law in all K-12 schools.

The law stipulates that all menstrual products be provided to pupils for free, which makes sense given the high number of underprivileged students in California schools. The law also demands that a notice of the text of the code be posted in all bathrooms, along with the contact information of the individual responsible for stocking the menstrual products (which shall include an email address and telephone number). Imagine if California legislators paid as much attention to whether students could read and write as they do the details of school restrooms.

It is not in the best interest of California K-12 schools for the legislature to micromanage bathroom policy, particularly when the state is doing such a poor job of educating its students.  But the mandate is especially galling because it is being forced on charter schools. A key reason parents send their children to these high-performing schools is they appreciate their ability to cultivate values and ethics independent of those espoused in regular public schools.

Thus, if this law is not challenged, charter schools will continue to be encircled in California’s web of injurious education laws which are increasingly extinguishing one of the few hopes for parental choice in the public school system.

Walter Myers III

Board of Directors, Discovery Institute
Walter is a Principal Engineering Manager leading a team of engineers, working with customers to drive their success in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. He holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Biola University's Talbot School of Theology, where he is an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Arts in Science & Religion (MASR) program teaching on Darwinian evolution from a design-centric perspective. He is also a board member of the Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA), a classical charter school in Southern California associated with Hillsdale College.
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