California is poised to become the first U.S. state to require schools to let kids choose bathrooms and sports teams based on their gender identity, marking some of the strongest protections for transgender youth in the country.
The Associated Press reports that California already had legal protections in place for transgender students, but the new bill made those rules more explicit. AB1266 allows K-12 children "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception rather than their birth gender. A San Francisco Democrat who sponsored the bill said the clearer rules ensure some of the state’s most bullied children will get a “fair shake.”
The AP notes the education department of Massachusetts and many school districts around the country are adopting similar rules.
A long debate preceded the 21-9 vote in the California State Senate, including one objection from a senator who suggested that the rules would allow mediocre male athletes to join female sports teams for competitive advantage.