Coalition Still Short in Bid to Repeal Calif. Trans Student Law

By the latest count, opponents of California's Student Success and Opportunity Act don't appear to have obtained enough valid signatures to qualify a measure to repeal the law for the November 2014 ballot.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

December 11 2013 4:09 PM ET

The latest numbers from California's secretary of state as it reviews signatures gathered by a right-wing coalition that's aiming to repeal the state's recently passed transgender student protection bill indicate that the effort is unlikely to qualify for the 2014 ballot.  

On Tuesday, California secretary of state Debra Brown's office released an update on the spot-check of signatures gathered by the deceptively named Privacy for All Students coalition in an effort to place a measure to repeal California's AB 1266 on next year's ballot. The law, scheduled to go into effect January 1, would provide transgender students with clearance to play on sports teams and to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

As of now, 37 out of 58 counties have finished the process of spot-checking signatures gathered from their districts, accounting for 34 percent of all signatures. The current validity rate of spot-checked signatures is 77.6 percent, lower than the estimated 82 percent validity rate needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot. 

To qualify the repeal measure, supporters needed to turn in 504,760 valid signatures from currently registered California voters from a majority of the state's counties. Last month Privacy for All Students spokesman Frank Schubert said the coalition turned in 620,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office and expressed confidence that the proposal would appear on next year's ballot. A random sample of these signatures is currently undergoing a spot-check to determine whether or not repeal efforts will move forward.

The secretary of state's office, however, reports that the law's opponents turned in 614,311 signatures, meaning at least 82.2 percent of those signatures must be valid to qualify the referendum for the ballot. If the projected validity rate comes back between 78.1 percent and 82.2 percent, there will be a check of every signature to determine whether the necessary 504,760 valid ones were obtained. If the projected validity rate comes in below 78.1 percent, the referendum will not qualify for the ballot.

The Pacific Justice Institute, one of the key members of the transphobic coalition trying to repeal the law, has stated that in the event that its supporters don't have the necessary signatures to put this forward as a ballot measure, the institute will attempt to stop the legislation from going into effect by filing lawsuits.

The secretary of state's office expects to complete the signature spot-check by January 8.

Immediately after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1266, the Student Success and Opportunity Act, into law in August, opponents began the process of working to undo the legislation’s provisions through public referendum. 

These opponents, many of whom were actively involved in the successful push to pass Proposition 8 in 2008, cite privacy concerns, claiming that the bill would create a free-for-all in which cisgender (nontrans) boys would pretend to be transgender in order to access areas like locker rooms where their female classmates may be in varying states of undress. 

These fears are largely unfounded, as the Los Angeles Unified School District  — the second largest school district in the country —  has had a district-level trans-inclusive student policy in place for nearly a decade without incident, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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