California yesterday became the first state to enshrine certain rights in state law for transgender students in kindergarten through 12th-grade, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want. Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had signed AB1266, which also will allow transgender students to choose whether they want to play boys' or girls' sports. Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination, while detractors said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy.
But a spokesman for the bill's author, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, noted that the state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, has had such a policy for nearly a decade and reported no problems. The Gay-Straight Alliance Network said two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have statewide policies granting the same protections, but California is the first to put them into statute and require them in all school districts. Hours after the governor's signing was announced, the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal group based in Sacramento, issued a news release soliciting plaintiffs for a future lawsuit against the law, which will take effect Jan. 1. (Read more transgender stories.)