The California state Senate passed a trailblazing initiative meant to protect transgender students from discrimination in schools.
The bill was approved by California’s Assembly on July 3 and is pending approval by Governor Jerry Brown before it can become official. Brown has yet to comment on the matter, revealed a spokesperson.
If the measure passes in full, the law will allow for transgender children attending public elementary or secondary schools to choose which bathroom they will use and which sports team they wish to play on.
Most academic institutions in the country decipher appropriate gender accessibility of restrooms on the basis of the individual’s sex at birth, regardless of their gender expression. This bill will allow for children to use the bathroom and play on the sports team appropriate to their expressed gender, rather than the sex assigned to them from day one.
San Francisco’s Transgender Law Center’s legal director, Ilona Turner, expressed the importance of this law and hopes that Brown gets on board, stating that this law is more than just a civil rights issue, but a financial one as well.
“Without this law, California schools that are failing to respect transgender students will inevitably face lawsuits like the ones we’re already seeing in other states, at great financial and emotional cost both to those students and to the state as a whole. This law will make sure that all students have an equal and safe opportunity to learn,” Turner said in a press release.
California, like some other states, have pre-existing laws which ban gender based discrimination, but these laws do not spell out the protections and rights of transgender students, as this one would.
Opponents of the bill worry that the legislation opens doors to potential sex offenders.
“There are youthful sex offenders,” state Senator Jim Nielsen said, reported CNN. “I guarantee there would be those who would use this opportunity.”
Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara, who co-authored the bill, disagrees.
“To date there’s been no single reported incident of any misconduct. Let’s not confuse silly behavior issues with sensitive gender identity issues.”