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Opponents of transgender rights law reach next step toward ballot referendum

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — Opponents of a new California law that spells out the rights of transgender students in public schools have cleared the next hurdle in their effort to repeal the law at the ballot box, state elections officials said Wednesday.

lgbt-students-schoolsA spot check of petitions circulated by backers of a proposed voter referendum on the law showed enough were valid to trigger further review of the signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot, according to figures compiled by the secretary of state.

Projections based on random sampling indicated that the referendum’s backers – a coalition of conservative groups called Privacy for All Students – obtained 95.6 percent of the 504,760 signatures required to force a public vote on the law passed last year by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

That was only a few thousand more than they needed to prompt the next step in the qualification process – a full check of all 619,244 signatures submitted, the secretary of state’s office said.

It could take more than a month for that work to be completed. County election officials have until Feb. 24 to review the signatures gathered in their jurisdictions to see if they were obtained from properly registered voters and then to report their findings to the state.

If the referendum makes the ballot, the law will be put on hold until the election determines whether it survives or is repealed.

“We wait with anticipation as we move into the next phase of the referendum process,” Karen England of the Privacy for All Students coalition said in an email to supporters. “We feel confident that a full count will result in us securing 100% of the signatures needed to put this referendum on the ballot.

The referendum would have made the ballot outright if the initial spot-check had shown that the signatures turned in for verification had a validity rate of 110 percent, which would have put them well over the minimum qualification target.

The law that is the subject of the referendum attempt took effect Jan. 1. It guarantees students in grades K-12 the right to use school facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms and to participate in the sex-segregated activities that correspond with their expressed genders instead of their school records.

Supporters said it was needed to spell out protections that already exist under state anti-discrimination laws but are overlooked or improperly applied by educators fielding requests from transgender students and their families.

Opponents maintain it violates the privacy of youngsters who may be uncomfortable sharing facilities with classmates of the opposite biological sex.

Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis, whose Oakland-based nonprofit co-sponsored legislation that led to the law’s enactment, said he is confident the referendum will fall short of the ballot, but thinks voters will reject it if they are faced with the question in November.

“I think it’s really important people know this is not about co-ed bathrooms. This is about schools focusing on the needs of each student on a case-by-case basis so they can focus on school,” Davis said.

Some school districts around California, as well as the education departments in Massachusetts and Connecticut, have implemented similar policies by regulation. But California is the first state to detail the rights of transgender students in schools by statute.

Although the law’s opponents have focused on potential abuses and awkward encounters in bathrooms and locker rooms, schools preparing to implement the law also are evaluating what it means for yearbook photo dress codes, sleeping arrangements for overnight field trips and activities such as choirs and recreational sports where girls and boys are often separated.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which govern s competitive high school sports, adopted a detailed process in 2012 that students must follow if they want to play on a team that is not consistent with their gender at birth.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. Civil rights should never be allowed to be voted on by the populace.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:49pm
  2. Here we go again…..prop 8 all over again…but this time attacking transgender students…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:51pm
  3. Wonderful how they worry about non-*trans kids but never about transgender kids. What a surprise. Not.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:55pm
  4. WTH is the deal with so much bigotry and hatred? A human being is a human being. And each deserves equal and respectful treatment. Not understanding the viewpoint or life experience of another does NOT make that person any less. Full stop. Period. And exclamation point.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:57pm
  5. This article is false they didnt meet the number of valid signatures

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:13pm
  6. I don't think the article says that... it says "prompted a further review of signatures"

    Replied on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:23pm
  7. I am gay, but what I think a lot of other gay people don’t realize is that a lot of parents think it’s really odd that our politics is getting more and more targeted toward children. Honestly, is anyone aware of this?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 8:30pm
  8. Way to go!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 8:43pm
  9. In India they have put where it asks for gender a ‘T’ next to the ‘F’ and ‘M’ so wtf of the free…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 8:49pm
  10. Why is it even considered that there are categories of people that can be denied their Human Rights, that can be excluded, bullied, persecuted by the State & by Mainstream Society ? This sort of behavior in the USA is different to what is happening in Russia & Africa, only in degree . You’d think Humanity might have learnt something from the Nazi, Stalinist, Maoist, Pol Pot, Idi Amin experience ?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:14pm
  11. what will they think of next

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:32pm
  12. “Privacy for all Students”? What a BS name for this! It should be called “Privacy for all Students Except Transgendered Students”

    Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:58pm
  13. David Gau our children are easy targets for bullying and discrimination. Why wait until someone is a depressed or repressed adult, if he or she even makes it that far?

    Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 3:20am
  14. Well put william William Makepeace Arnold

    Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 3:23pm