California became the first state in the nation to grant transgender Californian students rights and protections under the law.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1266 on Monday, which prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools. The bill requires that transgender students be allowed to participate in gender-specific school programs and activities, such as athletic teams, and be permitted to use facilities consistent with the student's gender identity.
According to the Sacramento Bee, AB 1266 extends protections for transgender students by guaranteeing "uniform treatment across the state's hundreds of school districts" and clarifying that "individual districts cannot bar students from a single-sex setting like a men's basketball team or a women's locker room."
California is the first to pass a statewide law to address discrimination against transgender students. The bill follows an earlier policy implemented in the Los Angeles Unified School District that offers similar protection and advocacy for transgender students.
The bill's passage did not come without conservative opposition. State Assemblyman Curt Hagman, a Republican representative from Northern California, told the Sacramento Bee he was "very disappointed" in Brown's decision to sign the bill. "Not only did his choice to sign this bill ignore the voices of many California citizens, it also greatly compromised the privacy and rights of students throughout California," Hagman said.
“We are seeing a trend here nationally where we have individuals who are psychologically unhealthy who are always getting what they want, but what do you do about the hundreds of other children in the school affected?” Traditional Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty told FoxNews.com last month.
The new law, which goes into effect January 1, is part of a continuing shift in the nation's treatment of transgender individuals. Last December, the American Psychiatric Association announced it would no longer list being transgender as a mental disorder.
In a statement posted on its website, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network praised the California law for building upon the existing national movement to end transgender discrimination. "Massachusetts and Colorado have statewide policies in line with AB 1266, and the Colorado and Maine state human rights commissions have held that state law requires schools to respect students’ gender identity," the statement said.