Calif. Trans Student Law Survives Repeal Effort

By Parker Marie Molloy

Originally published on Advocate.com February 24 2014 9:46 PM ET

An attempt to repeal California's recently implemented transgender student law has been shot down after conservative organizations failed to turn in the necessary 504,760 valid signatures to qualify the issue for a referendum. 

Proponents of the repeal, who had formed a coalition deceptively named Privacy for All Students, came up short, only collecting 487,760 valid signatures, leaving the repeal effort 17,276 short of the required 504,760 to qualify the issue to appear before voters in the November election.

As a result, California's Student Success and Opportunity Act will remain in force. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a student's gender identity and guarantees that trans students can participate in the gender-segregated sports and have access to facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The law, also known as Assembly Bill 1266, cleared the State Assembly by a vote of 46-25 and passed through the Senate by a vote of 21-9 before being signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August of last year. The law went into effect January 1. 

Although a full count of the signatures proved that the transphobic coalition failed to garner the necessary support, members of the coalition — which include the antigay National Organization for Marriage and the forces behind California's unconstitutional Proposition 8 —aren't giving up. 

Signatures are deemed invalid if a voter is not registered in the county in which they signed, or if the signature is a duplicate of one already counted. Nevertheless, a frantic email from Privacy for All Students Monday afternoon claimed that "signatures are thrown out for good reasons and for a lot of bad reasons," noting that a judge ruled that several thousand signatures should be considered valid after the secretary of state initially rejected them.

"[Privacy for All Students] is anxious to challenge any signature that has been unfairly thrown out," reads the message. "We are prepared to [challenge the signatures thrown out] again, as many times as we need to, until every valid signature is counted and the referendum qualifies for the ballot."

During the the original debate over Assembly Bill 1266, coalition member Pacific Justice Institute — the organization most recently known for repeatedly bullying Colorado transgender student Jane Doe —  launched an antitrans website full of misinformation, promoting falsehoods and reinforcing transphobic stereotypes. Following the bill's passage, the institute issued a call for plaintiffs, looking for parents and students who believed AB 1266 had violated their right to privacy.

LGBT advocates celebrated the decision as one that safeguards a vulnerable segment of California's youth. 

"The forces of discrimination tried to go after California's LGBT young people, and it's a sign of our progress that they fell short of their goal," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. "Yet unfortunately there are groups out there that are actively working to make the lives of LGBT youth harder. This law does nothing more than safeguard transgender students from being excluded and ensures all students are provided the same opportunities — regardless of gender identity."

For now, AB 1266 remains the law, and trans students statewide can feel confident that that their state, legislature, governor, and school affirm their right to be themselves.

Contributor: 
Parker Marie Molloy