School Climate & Safety

As Calif. Transgender Law Goes Into Effect, a Challenge Emerges

By Ross Brenneman — January 03, 2014 1 min read

California’s new transgender law went into effect this week, but the critics that attacked it as a bill haven’t let up, gaining a court victory this week in a quest to undo the new policy.

After Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1266 into law on August 12 of last year, a conservative group launched a petition drive that would, if successful, ultimately end with a referendum this coming November.

That group, Privacy for All Students, gained roughly 619,000 signatures by the state’s Nov. 10 deadline. But Nov. 10 fell on a Sunday, meaning that state officials weren’t in the office to accept late signatures. And Veterans Day came Nov. 11, meaning that the signatures weren’t collected until Nov. 12, and the secretary of state’s office therefore dismissed some 5,000 signatures for being submitted too late.

California law requires just over 504,000 signatures to create a ballot item. That might not seem like a lot, but the state still has to validate all of them. (Consider that, in the 2012 presidential primaries, Rick Perry couldn’t get on the Virginia ballot because the state invalidated over 2,000 of the signatures on his petition.) A huge task, but not impossible.

Yesterday afternoon, as the Los Angeles Times reports, California Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner ruled that the spirit of the law required all the signatures to be counted, because the group had at least attempted to submit the signatures on Nov. 10.

California will announce the results of the validation review on January 8.

The transgender law, which allows students to use facilities based on the gender with which they identify, met with criticism due in part to concerns about bathrooms. Opponents say that girls will never be fully comfortable with a biologically male student entering their bathroom, no matter the gender identification.

Image: Karen England, executive director of the California Resource Institute, left, and volunteers Grace LeFever, center, and Christina Hill, sort through stacks of mail in November in Sacramento with petitions for a referendum to overturn a new California law that allows transgender students to chose which public school restrooms they use. —Rich Pedroncelli/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.