Governor signs bill to expand transgender student rights

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California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during the fourth annual Water, Energy and Smart Technology Summit and Showcase at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field on May 23, 2013 in Mountain View, California. The governor joined more than 500 world-renowned researchers and scientists who are calling for action on climate change and other global threats.

California has become the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.

Governor Jerry Brown announced Monday he had signed into law AB 1266, a bill that seeks to expand protections for transgender students in public schools.

The new law gives students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

Supporters said the law will help reduce bullying against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts around the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use.

As KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reported in July, some transgender students have been coming forward to support the bill, sharing their own experiences of feeling discriminated against:

A transgender 16-year-old who was born a girl but identifies as a boy testified to the Senate’s Education Committee last week that his school forces him to take physical education in all girls classes. He said that leaves him feeling isolated and alone.

Along with taking P.E. with boys, the bill would allow him to use the boys’ bathroom and try out for the boys’ football team.

Detractors said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy.

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