Equity & Diversity

Efforts to Overturn California Transgender Student Law Fail

By Evie Blad — February 28, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Opponents of a newly enacted California law that ensures transgender students access to bathrooms, gender-segregated classes, and sports teams that align with their gender identity failed to gain enough valid signatures to put an item on the state’s ballot that would have given voters a chance to overturn the measure.

A previous sampling of the group’s petitions regarding the new law, Assembly Bill 1266, found enough valid signatures to trigger a full count. But that count found that the opponents, a coalition of groups called Privacy for All Students, was about about 17,000 signatures short of the 504,760 necessary to put the item on the ballot, The Sacramento Bee reported this week.

The law, which went into effect at the start of the year, has been a major talking point for transgender student activists, who say more needs to be done to ensure transgender students are treated fairly in schools around the country. Already this year, Maine’s high court found a school there violated state nondiscrimination law when it required a 5th grade transgender student to use a staff bathroom instead of allowing her to use a girls’ bathroom. Many California schools and districts—including Los Angeles—already had similar local policies on the books years before the law went into effect. And districts around the country have taken similar steps, even if rights for transgender students aren’t specifically enumerated in their state statutes.

Support for All Students, a group of organizations that assembled to support the California law, applauded the petition failure in a news release:

The law helps students like Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl from the Los Angeles area who transferred out of her school after administrators there refused to acknowledge her as a girl or allow her to use the girls' restroom. Her mom, Ofelia Barba, says that the law makes it easier for her daughter to go to school and be herself. 'I love my daughter and want the same things for her that other parents want for their children,' Barba said. 'I want what's best for her, for her to be happy, and for her to be able to do well in school. No one wants to see any kid singled out and excluded from school because of who they are.'"

But opposition to such efforts remains. Privacy for All Students, said in a statement that it plans to scrutinize why some signatures were discarded as invalid:

We are told that gender identity is more important than gender reality. We are told that feelings trump anatomy. While so many of us want to be compassionate to those that feel that biology has betrayed them, we can't help but notice that we are living the modern equivalent of the Emperor's New Clothes. Today, those who would tear down the 'boys' and 'girls' signs from bathrooms will celebrate. But we know that the battle is far from over. Privacy For All Students will keep fighting to see this referendum qualified for the November ballot."

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