The California Senate passed a bill to allow K-12 students who identify as transgender to use whichever restroom they prefer.
The bill gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated school programs, and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity,” regardless of their birth gender. After sparking furious debate among lawmakers, the bill makes it way to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for approval, the Associated Press Reported.
“There should be certainty that every kid has the chance to go to school and be treated equally and fairly,” Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, told the AP. “We know that these particular students suffer much abuse and bullying and denigration. We can’t change that overnight, but what we can do is make sure that the rules are such that they get a fair shake.”
The Transgender Law Center released a statement Wednesday from 16-year-old transgender student Ashton Lee, who said, “I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not. I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone.”
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While other school districts across the country have pass legislation to accommodate transgender students, opponents of AB 1266 say the measure goes too far.
Opponents of the bill argued that transgender studentss right to express themselves could conflict with other students’ right to privacy, possibly causing their classmates discomfort.
In March an Oregon high school added unisex bathrooms as a third option for students. Officials at Grant High School in Portland remodeled six existing restrooms, two for staff and four for students, into unisex bathrooms complete with unisex signs on locking doors.
"We just need to make sure that all students are safe and comfortable here, and that they have their needs met," Grant vice principal Kristyn Westphal told The Oregonian in March. "If they feel unsafe using the bathroom, that's a problem."