California made history Monday with Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) signature on the School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that protects transgender students and ensures their full participation in schools. Taking effect January 1, 2014, the law requires California public schools respect students’ gender identities and ensure that they can use all appropriate school facilities and participate equally on sports teams and other extracurricular activities.
The law happens to parallel a recent settlement between a California school district and the Departments of Justice and Education, which similarly secured protections for a trans student who had previously been prohibited from using the restroom.
Conservatives have condemned the bill, claiming that transgender people do not exist in “physical reality” and that teachers will become “identity keepers.” In reality, the law entrusts students’ understanding of their own gender by respecting their identities.