Law would allow transgender students to choose locker rooms, sports teams
Transgender students in California schools would be able to choose which school locker rooms they use and which sports teams they join based on their gender identity under a measure approved July 3 by the California Legislature.
The term "transgender" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth."
Introduced by state assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the legislation would be the first of its kind in the nation, and would give young people the right to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities regardless of what sexual category exists on their school records.
The proposal awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown, but CNN reported that his office had declined to comment on whether he would sign it.
Current state law already prohibits discrimination in education, but according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of several groups backing the legistaltion, transgender students "are often still unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities and facilities because of who they are."
The bill's opponents argue that it places the rights of transgender students above other students' rights to privacy.
"It is not all about discrimination," Republican state Senator Jim Nielsen said. "Elementary and secondary students of California — our most impressionable, our most vulnerable — now may be subjected to some very difficult situations."
Parents, school administrators and school board members would have no say over students who identify themselves as transgender and enter shower rooms or bathrooms used by the opposite sex, Nielsen said, warning that the privilege could be abused by youthful sex offenders.
"Think about the millions of California parents and students who at the least would be extraordinarily uncomfortable with what this bill would impose upon them," Nielsen said.
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