SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sen. Toni Atkins will take over as California Senate’s leader on March 21, Democrats announced Tuesday, becoming the first woman and the first lesbian to lead the chamber.

The San Diego Democrat will take over as president pro tem from fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles. De Leon is barred by term limits from seeking re-election and is running for U.S. Senate.

Atkins still must be formally elected by the Senate — a perfunctory decision because she has the unanimous support of the majority party.

Atkins is a former Assembly speaker and health care executive who was first elected to the Legislature in 2010.

She takes over as legislative leaders face scrutiny over their handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

In a statement, Atkins said leading the Senate is “an extraordinary opportunity and a great responsibility.”

“I have devoted my life to public service and the promise of equity, justice, and respect for everyone,” she said.