Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento, California, May 22, 2013 (Photo: AP)
This week California became the first U.S. state to legally enshrine rights for transgender students.
The new law gives students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on their self-perception rather than their birth gender.
Public schools will be required to allow transgender students from kindergarten to grade twelve to access whichever bathroom and locker room they want to use, the Associated Press reports, and to decide whether they want to play on boys' or girls' sports teams.
The bill, AB1266, was signed into law by Democratic governor Jerry Brown. Supporters of the new law argue that it will help reduce discrimination and bullying.
School districts in Los Angeles and San Francisco already have similar policies in place, and the law's supporters say neither city has reported problems.
State Assembly Speaker John Perez says the new law puts "California at the forefront of leadership on transgender rights," BBC reports.
Opponents of the bill say allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other "could invade the other students' privacy," according to the AP.
A Sacramento-based organization called Capitol Resource Institute criticized the new law, saying existing state law was sufficient to address the concerns of transgender students and their families. California law already prohibits schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of gender identity.
The legal group Pacific Justice Institute issued a news release before the bill was signed into law asking plaintiffs to join a future lawsuit against the legislation.