News (USA)

Conservatives sue California’s AG in battle over the name of their anti-trans ballot initiative

June 28, 2022: California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks at a press conference after a hate crimes roundtable discussion
June 28, 2022: California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks at a press conference after a hate crimes roundtable discussion Photo: CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD / USA TODAY NETWORK

A far-right collection of parents’ groups is suing California Attorney General Rob Bonta for accurately naming an anti-trans rights initiative they’re trying to place on the California ballot in November.

Parents’ rights group Protect Kids California is currently collecting signatures for what it calls the “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.”

Bonta’s office, which is granted the power to issue official titles and summaries for proposed initiatives, has renamed the proposal the “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative.”

“Under California law, the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for issuing official titles and summaries describing the chief purpose and points of every proposed initiative submitted in compliance with procedural requirements,” the attorney general’s office in a statement ahead of a trial date in April. “We take this responsibility seriously and stand by our title and summary for this measure.”

The so-called Protect Kids of California Act of 2024 would require schools to notify parents if children ask to identify as a different gender; block trans girls from participating in school sports as their gender; and mandate all students participate in activities and use bathrooms and other school facilities consistent with their sex assigned at birth.

The Protect Kids group claims in their suit that “As part of his duties as Attorney General, Rob Bonta was required to provide a neutral and accurate title and summary for the initiative,” and that “the title and summary mislead voters and mischaracterize the ballot initiative’s intent and impact.”

“Regardless of the perspective or content of a ballot initiative, Californians are owed a neutral title and summary of that initiative as part of their core political speech,” said Emily Rae, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, which co-filed the lawsuit against Bonta. “Ultimately, Rob Bonta owes it to Californians to uphold his duty as Attorney General — without injecting bias or prejudice into the matter.”

The parents’ rights group cites polling to bolster their case, including a Rasmussen survey that found 68% of California voters and 65% of Democrats support schools notifying parents if their child identifies as a gender different from their biological sex. A Gallup poll identified 93% of Republicans, 67% of independents, and 48% of Democrats are opposed to trans athletes playing on teams that align with their gender, and a similar proportion in a Harvard/Harris poll believe trans kids should be denied puberty blockers.

Gone uncited by Protect Kids is polling from the Public Policy Institute of California that found 70% of likely California voters support the federal Equality Act, which bans discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

According to the California Secretary of State, the “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative” will need 546,651 signatures to be placed on the November 2024 ballot.

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