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BAKERSFIELD, California (KGET) – With a new school year comes a new law in California.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a first of its kind bill Monday, giving transgender students in public schools more equality.
From sports teams to restroom facilities, transgender students will soon be able to join and use those matching their gender identity in public schools regardless of what sex is on their birth certificate.
“These are important opportunities for transgender students to be whole human beings and they are absolutely necessary,” said Whitney Weddell with the Bakersfield LGBTQ.
Weddell celebrated the governor’s signing of the bill along with other supporters in the state capital. They say it gives transgender students the chance to fully participate and succeed in school.
“This is not people who are looking to get a thrill by going into the opposite gender bathroom. These are people who truly feel that they have belonged in the opposite bathroom all along,” said Weddell.
While transgender students must provide physician’s proof of their gender identity, opponents still feel there is room for abuse, like boys looking for an advantage by joining a girls team. And, they feel it will infringe on privacy rights of other students who are not comfortable sharing bathrooms and changing spaces.
“You don’t know,” said local grandmother, Rosa Lomas. “The doctor doesn’t know if they go in there acting like they are.”
“I think they should wait until they are at least 18 so they they can know for sure if that’s what they want because they don’t get embarrassed when they are older and say, oh I wasn’t really sure,” said local mother, Arlene Vasquez.
The Kern High School District says it’s waiting on the State Department of Education for guidance of how to implement the state law into its schools when it takes effect January 1, 2014. It’s unclear if the board will take action to fight it between now and then.
“I can’t presume to speak on behalf of the board since this legislation was just passed yesterday,” said Assistant Superintendent of the Kern High School District, Michael Zulfa. “I think we’ll have to take a wait and see attitude as things continue to develop surrounding this issue.”
The bill passed both houses of the state legislature, along nearly unanimous party lines, Democrats for it, Republicans against it. All of our local lawmakers voted against it.