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Transgender students would have the right to participate in school sports and use bathroom facilities that correspond with their expressed genders under a bill awaiting the governor’s signature.

If Gov. Brown signs Assembly Bill 1266 into law, transgender students would have the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities,” regardless of how their gender is listed on their school records. Transgender refers to those who identify with a gender that differs from their sex.

Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca who testified before the Senate Education Committee last week, said on Wednesday he was happy that the bill had passed. “I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not,” Lee told the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone.”

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, introduced the bill this spring and said it would allow transgender students to feel fully included in school. Studies have shown that transgender students often face abuse and bullying in schools, he noted.

The bill passed the Assembly in May, and cleared the Senate on Wednesday.

Debate in the Senate on Wednesday was heated at times, the Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert blog reported.

“Think about all of the parents and all the students that would be uncomfortable in this situation,” Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said, according to Capitol Alert. He also warned about exposing students to the predations of “youthful sex offenders” who are “masters of manipulating circumstances to their advantage.”

“Let’s not confuse silly behavioral issues with serious gender identity issues,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

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