California's law to give transgender K-12 students rights such as access to the restrooms and locker rooms that they choose has received mixed response from school officials.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed AB 1266, which says schools must allow a student to participate in sex-segregated programs, athletics and to use facilities "consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil's records."

The law, the first one in the nation, is on the leading edge of transgender rights, said Carlos Alcala, an aide to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who wrote the bill.

Opponents, who have promised to sue, said the bill infringes on the privacy of public school students.

"No 13-year-old girl should ever have to worry about a 16-year-old boy entering showers where she's showering on the pretext that he is a she," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento. He said the law ties the hands of schools officials dealing with students who suffer from "gender identity disorder."

But proponents hailed the law as advancing long-sought rights of transgender students. The California Interscholastic Federation, the body overseeing sports among schools, in February amended its bylaws to provide for athletes to participate according to their gender identity. The federation allows for school districts to determine a student's eligibility to play in a gender that doesn't match birth records, but that decision may be appealed to the federation.


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In July, the federal civil rights offices settled a case forcing the Arcadia School District in Southern California to protect transgender student rights. The district barred a middle school student who identified as a boy from using a boys bathroom and a boys cabin on an overnight field trip.

Alcala said that rather than defining transgender rights through ongoing complaints, Ammiano thought it better to clarify the law.

The bill passed the state Senate 21 to 9 and the Assembly 46 to 25.

San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts have long had policies ensuring transgender students the same rights included in the new bill. Oakland Unified adopted a similar policy in November.

But the state law may give the issue more prominence, Oakland Unified spokesman Troy Flint said, so the district plans to discuss it with principals before school opens Aug. 26.

Some people may object, he said, and the district will work with them. "But human rights are nonnegotiable."

Schools will look for guidance from state organizations that represent districts and administrators, as well as from the California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees competitive sports. As they do with all new bills, those organizations are reviewing language and will issue guidelines later.

How districts have handled transgender students has varied. In the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, a transgender student was allowed to use a staff rest room, rather than the student ones, Superintendent Barry Groves said. For the future, he said the district will come up with a policy that respects the needs of its diverse population.

Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute said that AB 1266 has the potential to violate Title IX, which protects women's sports, by allowing a boy to compete on a girls athletic team.

"You could have a girl booted off the soccer team because a boy has a genetic hormonal advantage," he said, or a girl forced to compete with a male wrestler.

However, bill backers said policies like those in San Francisco and Los Angeles have not caused problems or complaints.

Flint in Oakland said it's a matter of educating the community.

"Throughout history whenever rights have been granted to a group that suffered discrimination, there have been groups that challenged it," he said. "Over time people who fought for equality have always been vindicated by history."

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.