Petition Drive to Put Transgender Law to California Voters Comes Up Short; A Country with Two Cultures Won't Become One Anytime Soon

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A California referendum on a proposed transgender student law failed Monday when insufficient valid signatures were turned in to the state.

The California secretary of state's office posted the final tally on its website Monday evening showing the petition drive lacked 17,276 valid signatures to put the referendum on the November ballot.

Opponents of AB 1266, sometimes called the transgender "bathroom bill," said they weren't finished.

Privacy for All Students and referendum proponent Gina Gleason have "people lined up" to go to county offices Tuesday morning to review the rejected signatures, Karen England, co-chairwoman of the group, said Monday night.

San Diego County, for instance, threw out about 14,000 signatures, and San Bernardino County threw out 13,000, she said. "I don't believe all of those are unregistered voters or should have been thrown out."

California case law is clear about "erring on the side of voter intent," she said, and signatures should not be rejected because they lacked a ZIP code or because the margins of the ballot printouts weren't exactly right.

"We believe there are more valid signatures there, and that we are going to be close enough to pick up that difference," Ms. England said.

The failure of the measure to qualify means "all students in California can breathe a little easier," said John O'Connor, executive director of Equality California, one of many gay-rights groups and their allies who support AB 1266 and formed a group called Support All Students to build momentum for it.

"It's a sign of our progress that they fell short of their goal," said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, adding that his organization will continue to stand with their partners in California to oppose "the vitriol behind this effort."

The School Success and Opportunity Act, signed in August by Gov. Jerry Brown, updates state anti-discrimination law to permit students from kindergarten through 12th grade to decide themselves what bathrooms, shower rooms and locker rooms they would use and which sex-segregated teams and activities they would join.

The intent of the law is to permit children with gender-identity issues to fit more easily into school activities, without being overruled or micromanaged by school officials or others.

Until now, California school officials were required to work with students, parents and others to address the students' needs and choices. …