SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - 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.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that he had signed AB 1266. 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.
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.
For 16-year old Ashton Lee, a transgendered young man who delivered almost 6,000 signatures to Governor Jerry Brown in favor of the law, it really isn't that big a deal.
"Everyone that I was talking with today was just giving me high-fives and and slaps and on the back and 'aw cool, that's great," Lee said of his fellow students at Manteca High School.
His school is one of many in California that's already adjusted to support transgendered students.
"They appreciate me getting involved and taking a stand and saying what I have to say and they want to help me achieve my greatest at school," he said
Opponents like Randy Thomasson with SaveCalifornia.com believe the law will bring chaos in schools, allowing boys to use girl's restrooms and girls to use boy's.
"They are living a lie. They have declared themselves the opposite gender when their chromosomes and the equipment that God gave them says otherwise," Thomasson said.
Ashton's mother doesn't buy that argument.
"I think that's based out of fear and it's misguided," Catherine Lee maintains.
"This doesn't ruin the society or ruin family values. It's something that's been present whether someone likes it or not," Lee added.
Supporters say the law would help reduce bullying against transgender students, but parents like Marcia Garcia whose daughter attends Tokay High in Lodi is not on board.
"Just because they're confused doesn't mean they have to confuse everybody else," Garcia said. "It's not a good thing. Kids already have enough distractions in schools and to have something like that, where they have transgender restrooms, I think adds to that distraction in school."
"I would feel uncomfortable if somebody was to walk in the bathroom and they'd be transgender. I mean, I'm not against it, but I'd feel really uncomfortable about it," said Tokay High School senior Jordan Borja.
Detractors said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy, but Borja disagreed.
"No, because there's stalls in the bathroom. So I wouldn't really know what's going on," Borja said.
Other parents say it's just a sign of the times.
"Times are changing and it's not going to get any different and other things are going to come up in the future that people aren't going to be happy with, but you know, life is changing," said parent Pam Judson.
The Associated Press