Transgender Students in California See New Opportunities

Students in the state can decide which bathrooms they use and sports teams on which they play

A student in Rancho Cucamonga is among those who stand to benefit from a new state law giving transgender people the right to use bathrooms, locker rooms and sports programs belonging to the gender they identify with.

Angel, 15, is biologically a girl, but said he feels much better living as a boy.

"I didn't feel comfortable in my skin," Angel told NBC4. He did not want to give his last name or the name of the school he attends. "When I look at myself in the mirror, I feel comfortable."

On Monday, California became the first state to give such rights to transgender students. Supporters of the law said it would reduce discrimination and bullying in schools, while opponents said they feared it would jeopardize the privacy of other students.

At Angel's school, teachers and fellow students have been mostly supportive, but institutional restrictions - like which sports teams he could join - had been holding him back, he said.

He has been forced to watch boys' track meets from the sidelines instead of participating. Now, Angel hopes to join the boys' track team.

Many parents, however, harbor reservations about the new law. They wonder what the motives of transgender students might be, and worry about them being around their children in bathrooms and locker rooms.

Angel's parents say those reactions are most likely based in their fear of the unknown.

"Transgenders are not any less than other people," Angel said.

While the state law is new, the Los Angeles Unified School District has had a similar policy in place for about a decade.

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