SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A Republican state lawmaker says a new California law allowing transgender students to choose which restroom and locker room they use is part of the reason at least one of his sons will not return to his local public school this fall.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who lives in the Southern California mountain community of Twin Peaks, described his family's decision in a column published on WND, a conservative website.
He wrote that under the bill from Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, the privacy rights of California students "will be replaced by the right to be ogled" and will encourage inappropriate behavior among hormone-driven teenagers.
"While trying to address a concern of less than 2 percent of the population, California is now forcibly violating the rights of the other 98 percent," Donnelly wrote.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law Monday, making California the first state to put such transgender protections into statute.
Donnelly told The Associated Press on Friday that his 13- and 16-year-old sons, who attend Rim of the World Unified School District in the San Bernardino Mountains, were "horrified" to learn they might have to share a restroom with female students.
He is pulling one son out of middle school, while another son is uncertain if he will return to his public high school. The decision is one that his family already had been discussing before the bill was approved.
"If it doesn't change his school experience, he may still stay," Donnelly said of his high-school student. "We don't know yet how this policy is going to affect our town."
A message left with the school district's superintendent's office was not immediately returned.
The law, which will take effect Jan. 1, gives students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" based on the gender they identify with as opposed to their birth gender. Those programs also include sports teams.
Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students and note that the state's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, has had such a policy for nearly a decade.
But detractors say allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy.
Donnelly, who is exploring a bid for governor next year, said he is hearing concerns from a growing number of parents across the state. Some of those parents have told him they also plan to remove their students from public school, although he said the parents he has spoken with have declined to speak publicly about their decision.
Donnelly's comments Friday came as two conservative groups opposed to the law, the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute and Capitol Resource Institute, filed language for a ballot referendum with the state attorney general's office seeking to repeal AB1266.
The justice institute also is distributing a form that parents can send to school districts, stating that their child's rights include the right to privacy from students of the opposite gender in situations such as changing clothes.
Brad Dacus, the institute's president, said the organization has drawn significant interest from parents who are upset by the new law. He said the form "puts the school district on notice that students aren't surrendering their rights to privacy."