ENCINITAS, Calif. - Some are calling it a victory for equality, but opponents say a bill that passed the State Assembly Thursday could end up hurting children in every school in San Diego County.
Born a female, Keenan Gottlieb -- a high school senior -- began transitioning to life as a male several years ago.
He uses a gender neutral bathroom at his high school in Encinitas, but says many other transgender youth are required to the use the restroom associated with a gender they don't identify with --something that causes discomfort and embarrassment.
"Instead of risking harassment, right now, transgender youth generally avoid going to the bathroom … which is not good for their health," said Gottlieb.
AB1266, the bill that just passed the State Assembly 45-24, would allow transgender students K -12 to choose the restroom of their choice.
The issue recently grabbed headlines in Colorado when a family went public with the story of their first grader, born a boy, not being allowed to use the girls' bathroom.
Back in California, the bill also would give transgender youth the choice to participate in activities, including, sports teams as the sex of their choice.
Gottlieb's school allowed him to join the boy's soccer team.
"It's about dignity. It's about being validating one's identity about who they truly authentically are," said Gottlieb.
But conservative groups say that could be unfair, allowing a biological male an advantage on a female team.
When it comes to the bathroom issue, critics say the harm could be widespread.
"It's going to subject the vast majority of children to uncomfortable situations. Imagine if your 7-year-old daughter is in the bathroom and a boy comes in to use the bathroom," said Dr. George Delgado, Medical Director for Culture of Life Familly Services.
Bill supporters say those dire predictions have not come true in large school districts that have already adopted a similar policy.
Gottlieb recently has spoken out at rallies in Sacramento in support of the bill.
The bill now heads to the State Senate.
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