SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento City Unified School Board unanimously approved a controversial new policy to protect transgender students.
It parallels the state law, which goes into effect Jan. 1.
Opponents are trying to overturn it through a referendum, but board members said Thursday's vote ensures the rights of transgender students are protected in the district.
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School officials have already been accommodating transgender students on a case by case basis, but the policy provides a standard protocol.
"We need to help provide clarity for administration, staff and teachers," Board member Jay Hansen said. "But it mostly comes back to how do we support the student."
Immediately after the board's 7-0 vote, there was a round of applause and supporters began hugging one another.
"It's the right thing to do," one parent said during public comment.
The policy, two years in the making, now allows transgender students to choose which bathrooms they want to use and the sports teams they want to join depending on the gender they identify with.
Supporters wore purple as a show of solidarity. Many who spoke out shared personal stories.
"I am a transwoman and also a queer woman," one woman said during public comment.
"I was bullied, brutally beaten, stabbed and abused," another said.
An overwhelming number of supporters attended the meeting.
More than two dozen people weighed in on the policy, the majority of them urging the board to pass the measure.
But not everyone was on board, citing safety and privacy concerns for other students.
"Basically, you're putting me through having to watch a male undress," a 15-year-old girl said.
But while bathrooms and locker rooms dominated most of the conversation, supporters said the new measure is about much more.
"What it is about creating culture of respect and inclusion for all students," Lawrence Shweky, coordinator of integrated support services for the district, said.
In January, district officials will begin offering support and training to site administrators.