Transgender students in California will now be able to choose whichever bathroom or sports teams they prefer based on the gender they identify with, courtesy of landmark legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday.
The law, California's Assembly Bill No. 1266, will go into effect January 1.
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The measure was approved by the California Senate last Wednesday in a 21-9 vote, which saw largely Republican opposition.
"There are youthful sex offenders," Republican State Sen. Jim Nielsen said, CNN reported.
"I guarantee there would be those who would use this opportunity."
Supporters of the bill argue the measure will reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students, while detractors counter that state laws protecting transgender people already exist. These laws prohibit schools from discriminating against students based on their gender identity, the Associated Press reported.
"The answer is not to force something this radical on every single grade in California," Karen England, executive director of the Sacramento-based conservative advocacy group Capitol Resource Institute, told the AP.
"What about the right to privacy of a junior high school girl wanting to go to the bathroom and having some privacy, or after PE showering and having to worry about being in the locker room with a boy?" England added.
In contrast, supporters cheered the groundbreaking law, and disputed claims that the bill would lead to potential harassment issues between students.
"They're not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology," Carlos Alcala, a spokesman for the bill's author, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, told the AP.
Alcala added that in general, transgender students do not want to call attention to themselves; they are just trying to blend in at school.
Despite his support, Alcala acknowledged that there would be cases in which students might feel uncomfortable due to the new bill.
"Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it," Alcala said. "We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position."
Brown did not release a statement after the signing; however, Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Democrat who represents Los Angeles, said the law "puts California at the forefront of leadership on transgender rights."
The Gay-Straight Alliance Network, a homosexual advocacy group based San Francisco, Calif. that supported the measure, said that both Connecticut and Massachusetts already have statewide policies granting the same protections
, but the golden state is the first to make it into a statute.
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