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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 09
It's official: Bigots fail to force vote on California law protecting Trans students.
Section One
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It's official: Bigots fail to force vote on California law protecting Trans students.

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A coalition of anti-Gay hate groups has failed to force a vote on repealing the new California law that protects Trans students from discrimination.

According to the final count of signatures posted on the California Secretary of State's website on February 24, their initiative petition gathered only 487,484 valid names - well short of the 504,760 needed to qualify for the November ballot.

The law guarantees the rights of California's K-12 students to use school restrooms and to participate in gender-segregated activities, like sports teams, that correspond to their expressed genders. They previously could be compelled to conform to the genders specified in school records, whether or not they identified in that way.

"This law gives schools the guidelines and flexibility to create an environment where all kids have the opportunity to learn. We need to focus on creating an environment where every student is able to do well and graduate. This law is about doing what's best for all students," said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland.

The law was passed by the California legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year, and went into effect January 1.

The measure was challenged by a coalition of churches and other groups calling themselves "Privacy for All Students," who filed an initiative campaign to force a vote on the legislation. The coalition's spokesperson, Karen England, complained that California officials had thrown out valid signatures.

"We are preparing for the next stage of the battle," England said in a statement.

"After months of waiting, we now get to see why so many signatures were thrown out. Certainly some signers were not registered to vote or had moved without changing their address. But it is also certain that many of those signatures were rejected based on reasons that will not survive a legal challenge."

England has a long history of anti-Gay and anti-Trans activism. In 2009 she sued in federal court in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn California's anti-bullying law.

The next year she tried to get California's Lieutenant Governor to file an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker's decision striking down Prop 8 while Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was out of the country. When he turned her down, she ran unsuccessfully for his job.

In 2011 she launched another unsuccessful campaign, to prevent Transgender adults from changing their birth certificates to reflect their real gender. She has also organized school walkouts in opposition to GLSEN's annual Day of Silence.

California is the first state to detail the rights of Transgender students in schools by statute. Some school districts around California, as well as the education departments in Massachusetts and Connecticut, have implemented similar policies by regulation.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs competitive high school sports, in 2012 adopted a detailed process that students must follow if they want to play on a team that is not consistent with the gender assigned them at birth.

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