Trans Advocates Want to Meet With Jelly Belly Chairman

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com October 28 2013 6:46 PM ET

A coalition of LGBT advocates has asked the chairman of Jelly Belly Candy to meet with him after it was revealed that he donated $5,000 to repealing an equal access law for transgender students.

Herman Rowland Sr. made the donation in September to Privacy for All Students, a group dedicated to repealing legislation that guarantees transgender students in California access to the bathrooms, locker rooms, sport teams and other gender-segregated school facilities and activities that correspond with their gender identity.

The coalition includes leaders from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Equality California. In the letter posted on BuzzFeed Friday, the four leaders said California was not the only state in the U.S. with such a law and that equal access policies ensure that students can have an environment more conducive to learning. They added that 80% of transgender students in grades 6 through 12 reported feeling unsafe at school.

"While we understand that some people may have never known a transgender person and may have questions and concerns, the full and equal inclusion of transgender students does not infringe upon the rights of any person," they wrote in the joint letter. "Unfortunately, the campaign to repeal the law has relied on extremely misleading scare tactics, misrepresents who transgender youth are, and advances hypothetical scenarios that haven’t occurred in the years that these types of policies have been in place in California and across the country. Repealing the School Success and Opportunity Act would only serve to hurt promising young students who are often already marginalized."

The letter then asks Rowland to set up a meeting to discuss the future of the policy.