California News

Teen urges Gov. Jerry Brown to pass transgender-rights bill

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A transgender high school student traveled to the California capitol Wednesday to make his case to Gov. Jerry Brown. The argument -- people should be able to play either girls or boys sports based on the gender they identify with.

With more than 6,000 signatures collected, 16-year-old Ashton Lee turned in a petition to Governor Brown urging him to sign a bill that he says would make school a lot better for him and other transgender students.

"It'll let me be a regular boy at my school," he said.

Ashton used to be Kimberly, never quite feeling right about being a girl. The high school junior says all the rules at his Manteca school forced him to be something he's not.

"I was placed in a class full of all girls for PE, which doesn't make any sense to me because I'm a boy," he said. "And every day I go into that class, and it was just a reminder that I'm all by myself."

The Legislature sent Governor Brown a measure that would allow transgender students in California public schools, from kindergarten through high school, to use the restrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams of the gender they identify with.

The special allowances upset opponents.

"We're going to start letting 5-year-olds question their sex and gender and decide which bathroom they want to use? Or if they're a boy who perceived himself as a girl and they want to play on the girls' soccer team or girls' softball team to gain an advantage? These are the issues that are going to be thrown up in the air and unresolved if this madness gets signed into law," said Benjamin Lopez with the Traditional Values Coalition.

Supporters say the school districts in Los Angeles, San Francisco and two others already have such policies in place with no problems.

It'll be interesting to see what the Governor does. On the one hand, he has signed numerous bills advancing LGBT rights. On the other, he's a big advocate of letting school districts decide their own policies.

"This bill is absurd," Lopez said. "There's no legitimate reason, no public outcry for this bill, therefore Governor Brown should veto it."

But Ashton says the Governor's signature will change his life as a student.

"I'm not going to have to worry about being so different than the rest of my peers," he said. "I can just be who I am."

The bill is expected to get to the Governor's desk soon, and he'll have 12 days to take action.

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Tags:
children, lgbt, laws, jerry brown, california news, nannette miranda
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