California Legislators Pass Transgender-Rights Bill for K-12 Students

California lawmakers today approved a bill that would allow transgender public school students to choose which restrooms they use and which sports teams they join based on their gender identity rather than their chromosomal gender. The bill is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

The state already prohibited discrimination against transgender students, but this bill, AB -1266, clarifies exactly what legislators expect from educators: "This bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records."

Opponents of the bill say they're worried transgender students' rights are overshadowing 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."

Despite the critics, it's worthwhile to note that the Massachusetts Department of Education instituted a similar policy for its transgender students earlier this year [PDF], and to the very same kind of conservative protestations. Months later, there's been no cause for concern there thus far.

[Image via Flickr user LeafLanguages]