By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 29 2013 2:23 PM ET
Right-wing opponents of California's new law ensuring equal access for transgender students have fabricated yet another story about a trans teen "harassing" cisgender (nontrans) students in the school bathroom, reports Zack Ford at ThinkProgress.
After the California-based Pacific Justice Institute publicized a now-debunked story about a transgender teenager in Colorado who it claimed was "inherently harassing" fellow female students simply by using the same restroom as her classmates, another Christian group has followed suit.
Dran Reese, founder of Salt and Light Ministry, a nonprofit project of Temecula, Calif.'s Calvary Chapel Upland that claims it "provides resources that promote good government according to Biblical principles without any party affiliation," told San Diego's ABC affiliate last week that a transgender student in Los Angeles was peeking over the tops of restroom stalls to look at female schoolmates.
The station didn't bother to fact-check the claim, so trans blogger and advocate Cristan Williams called the Los Angeles United School District to see if the harassment actually took place.
And as was the case with the Colorado story, an official with LAUSD's office of communications confirmed to Williams that no harassment occurred. Williams published audio of her conversation with the official, who acknowledged that the school did receive a complaint, but "it turned out that it was fabricated by one of the parents who opposes transgender students in schools. So it was an unfortunate situation, to have put the students through, but it was fabricated."
Ford reports that Salt and Light is one of the leading partners collecting signatures to repeal California's Assembly Bill 1266, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in August, and mandates that trans students be granted access to bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, and other gender-segregated facilities that correlate with their gender identity.
The signature-gathering campaign to put the law's repeal on the ballot is being organized under the moniker "Privacy for All Students," which is being supported by the antigay National Organization for Marriage, the Pacific Justice Institute, and, among others, the chairman of the board of Jelly Belly candies. Opponents of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) have until November 12 to gather 505,000 valid signatures to put the question on the November 2014 ballot. If they fail to reach that threshold of valid signatures, the law will take effect in January.
There appears to be a pattern of right-wing groups resorting to targeting trans children — minors — with false, libelous claims of harassment in an effort to stoke fear about the "risk" of granting these students equal access to basic facilities. In the Colorado case, the initial story publicized by the Pacific Justice Institute was picked up by conservative media outlets, including Fox News, some of which eventually published the transgender 16-year-old's name. Responsible media outlets referred to the teen — who, the school confirmed, did not harass anyone — as Jane Doe, since she is a minor. Doe's mothers have spoken openly about the intense psychological pressure their daughter was feeling after being targeted by right-wing activists halfway across the country.