- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a law Tuesday mandating foster care facilities and juvenile courts treat transgender children as their identifying gender.

It also establishes training for social workers and foster parents on working with foster kids who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning their sexuality.

“Today we took an important step forward for some of Nevada’s most at-risk and vulnerable youth,” Sandoval said. “Ensuring that every child, regardless of background, identity, or expression is safe and secure is not something I am willing to compromise on.”

Many treatment and detention centers currently are segregated by biological sex.

Assembly Bill 99 aims to put minors in appropriate facilities by mandating courts commit children in accordance with their gender expressions and state protocols. The law directs corrections officials to work with LGBTQ representatives to further clarify that process.

Supporters and bill sponsor Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, a Las Vegas Democrat, said the law could increase children’s chances of getting placed in a welcoming home and coping with court and foster systems that carry increased risk of suicide.

“We are in an evolving time in society where there is an emerging population that is coming out of the shadows who deserve to be treated based on how they identify as humans,” Araujo said. “It’s time for Nevada to make an extended effort to understand all Nevadans and their needs and to accommodate those needs to the greatest extent that we possibly can.”

Some foster parents and opponents, including Republican Sen. Joseph Hardy of Boulder City, said the training would be burdensome and infringe on the ability of religious foster providers to parent kids how they see fit.

The law will take effect on Oct. 1, though regulators can begin drafting corresponding rules immediately.

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