Transgender students in California will now have the right to use whichever bathrooms they prefer and join either the boys’ or girls’ sports teams, thanks to landmark legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday.
The law amends the state’s education code, and stipulates that each student will have access to facilities, sports teams, and programs that are “consistent with his or her gender identity,” rather than the student’s actual biological composition. A male student who self-identifies as female could therefore use the girls’ bathroom, even if he is anatomically male.
Though the debate over accommodating transgender students’ needs has ramped up recently — with several high-profile cases attracting media scrutiny — California is the first state to address the issue with statewide legal action.
“I’m so excited that California is making sure transgender students have a fair chance to graduate and succeed,” said Calen Valencia, an 18-year-old transgender student, in a statement. “I should have graduated this year, but my school refused to give me the same opportunity to succeed as other boys. Now other transgender youth won’t have to choose between being themselves and graduating high school.”
The legislation was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who said that it will make school life easier for transgender kids.
A spokesperson for Ammiano admitted that the bill would irk some parents who do not want their kids sharing bathrooms with members of the opposite sex.
“Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it,” said Carlos Alcala, a spokesperson for Ammiano, in a statement to San Jose Mercury News. “We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position.”
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