California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Monday that gives transgender students access to restrooms and locker rooms designated for either gender, as well as participation on either girls' or boys' sports teams. Framed as an equal rights issue by gay and transgender activists, those opposed to such a law say it sets a dangerous precept, and some are telling parents to homeschool or enroll children in private Christian schools.
"This radical bill warps the gender expectations of children by forcing all California public schools to permit biological boys in girls restrooms, showers, clubs and on girls sports teams and biological girls in boys restrooms, showers, clubs and sports teams," said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, as reported by FOX News. "This is insanity."
On the pro-family group's website, Thomasson added, "Jerry Brown and the Democrats have targeted every kid in public school with gender-bending brainwashing. Fortunately, parents can protect their children from the insanity of biological boys in girls' restrooms and girls' showers and biological girls in boys' restrooms and boys' showers by exiting the dysfunctional, immoral public schools for homeschooling and solid church schools."
California becomes the first state to pass such an expansive transgender law regarding schools. However, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington and Colorado have similar existing policies in regard to transgender students.
California's 6.2 million children in public elementary and high schools will be covered by the law.
Supporters made the argument that such a law will help cut down on bullying against transgender students. Nationwide, families of transgender students have been battling with school districts to provide access for their children to what they deem as appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.
"Now, every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates," said Masen Davis, executive director of Transgender Law Center, according to FOX.
Sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Assembly Bill 1266 is aimed at prohibiting "discrimination against transgender students" in the state's school districts, Ammiano said.
The bill's passage means that students would now have the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on their self-perception, no matter what their gender at birth.
However, lawmakers such as Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen, who voted against the bill say its passage would mean students would be susceptible to abuses.
"It is not all about discrimination. Elementary and secondary students of California – our most impressionable, our most vulnerable – now may be subjected to some very difficult situations," said Nielsen, as reported by AP.
Nielsen is concerned that officials and parents will not be able to regulate which students, who identify themselves as transgender, enter locker rooms or bathrooms used by the opposite sex. He warns that the privilege could be abused by "youthful sex offenders."
He argued that millions of California parents and students would be at least "extraordinarily uncomfortable with what this bill would impose upon them."
Another concern is in the area of sports, according to Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood). Male athletes who are struggling in competition against their own gender could "game the system" by competing against female athletes, the lawmakers said.
"There are kids out there that are struggling, that are having difficult times," Knight said. "But there are also kids that are going to take advantage of the system."