Transphobic Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Calif. Secretary of State

Despite repeated set backs along the way, Privacy for All Students continues their attack on a California law.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

March 26 2014 6:20 PM ET

California Secretary of State Debra Bowens

Privacy for All Students, an antitransgender coalition formed with the sole purpose of fighting a California law that provides protection for trans students, has filed a lawsuit in a last-ditch effort to put the law up for repeal through a voter referendum.

Last month, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that Privacy for All Students' petition campaign did not meet the 504,760 signature threshold required to place the law up for public referendum this November. More than 130,000 signatures were rejected by the Secretary of State's office, leaving Privacy for all Students more than 17,000 signatures short of the total required to place the referendum on the ballot.

The following day, Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney Matthew McReynolds issued a statement, shining light on the coalition's antitransgender strategy.

"While we certainly would have preferred a higher signature validation rate of our petitions by elections officials, the referendum process continues," McReynolds told The Advocate. "Under state law, we now have 21 days to review the explanations given as to why signatures were invalidated, and we will then have the option of going to court. We do not believe that more than 130,000 of the referendum signatures were truly invalid, and we think it is very likely that a court will eventually agree that a sufficient number of those invalidated signatures were in ‘substantial compliance’ with state law to place this issue on the November ballot. The Secretary of State has already attempted to disenfranchise voters on this issue, and was ordered by a court to count signatures that she had originally excluded, so this is far from over."

On March 14, Privacy for All Students filed a lawsuit in hopes of receiving such a court order that would require Secretary of State Bowen to certify the petition, placing the referendum on the ballot. The lawsuit claims that more than 17,000 signatures were "unlawfully disqualified" from the Secretary of State's official count.

Despite the ongoing repeal efforts, the law has been in effect since January 1 — with some positive results for trans students like Pat Cordova-Goff, who hopes to join her high school's girl's softball team after being named homecoming queen last year.

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