AB 1266, which passed largely on a party-line vote of 45-24, has been touted by supporters as "eliminating obstacles facing transgender people," but opponents have warned it "mandates San Francisco values on all California schools."
Under the bill, a student will be "permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions," consistent with "his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil's records."
California's action follows a "transgender rights" directive issued by the Massachusetts Department of Education in February accomplishing everything the California bill does.
"By imposing this radical policy on all schools in California, the legislature seeks to take away local control from the school districts, parents, and communities," Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, a faith-based political action group in Sacramento, said in a statement.
"What this bill is saying is the rights of a few students supersede the rights of all other students. AB 1266 will bring many unintended consequences for students, school districts and communities," England said. "No student should be forced to share bathrooms or change clothes in front of members of the opposite sex. AB 1266 mandates San Francisco values on all California schools."
The bill's author, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D.-San Francisco, said it would force school districts to comply with laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.
"Will transgender students make some other children uncomfortable? Perhaps," Ammiano wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times last month. "I don't want to minimize that, but new experiences are often uncomfortable. That can't be an excuse for prejudice."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Transgender Law Center and Gay Straight Alliance support the bill.
Republicans voiced opposition in the Assembly, according to The Sacramento Bee.
"I do not believe that allowing individuals of the opposite sex to use the same restrooms makes any sense at all, and I think the vast majority of Californians deeply oppose this," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R.-Twin Peaks, said.
The Bee reported that several school districts, including Los Angeles Unified and San Francisco Unified, already have policies letting students participate in activities and use facilities for the gender they choose.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, a traditional legal group, said "forcing boys and girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms and sleeping arrangements is not equality; it's insanity." PJI launched a website, genderinsanity.com, with information about this bill and a related one.
"Picture this ... your 7 year-old daughter comes home from school in tears," the website states. "You ask her what's wrong and she says she's afraid to go to the bathroom at school because a boy comes in while she's there. Outraged, you call the school to demand an explanation. You're told that your daughter is telling the truth, but because the boy says he wants to be a girl, their hands are tied. 'It's the law.'"
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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