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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 15 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 46
Trans protections under attack in California - Well-known bigots file ballot challenge to groundbreaking state law
Section One
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Trans protections under attack in California - Well-known bigots file ballot challenge to groundbreaking state law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

California's newly enacted law protecting Transgender students is apparently headed for a test at the ballot box.

The so-called 'Privacy for All Students' coalition announced on November 11 that it had collected 620,000 signatures on a petition to put the law up for a vote on the November 2014 ballot. Only 505,000 signatures were necessary to qualify under California election rules.

The law, named the School Success and Opportunity Act, passed California's legislature by wide margins - 21 to 9 in the Senate and 46 to 25 in the Assembly - and was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on August 12. It will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

This landmark legislation made California the first state in the country to require its public schools to allow Trans students access to whatever restroom, locker room, or sports team they identify as appropriate for them.

The new law gave students the right 'to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities' based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

It was introduced by openly Gay Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara.

FAMILIAR FACES
The 'Privacy for All Students' group is a collection of anti-Gay organizations and individuals who will be all too familiar to SGN readers from their long years of opposition to LGBT rights.

NOM strategist Frank Schubert, who masterminded last year's unsuccessful campaign to repeal Washington's Marriage Equality Act, led the California petition effort.

The Capitol Resource Institute, an anti-Gay, anti-choice group led by Karen England, is the driving force in the coalition.

England is notorious as the organizer of Christian student walkouts to protest GLSEN's annual Day of Silence. In 2009 she filed an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging California's anti-bullying laws. The following year she attempted to induce California's lieutenant governor to file an appeal of federal Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling against Prop 8 while then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was out of the country. In 2011 she launched a campaign to block Trans people from changing the gender indicated on their birth certificates.

The anti-Trans coalition's spokesperson is Gina Gleason, executive director of the group Faith and Public Policy. The group advertises itself as supporting Christian marriage, family, and parental rights.

Gleason boasted that her group's success in over-fulfilling California's signature requirements indicated that public opinion was on the side of repealing protections for Transgender students.

ACTIVISTS VOW FIGHTBACK
John O'Connor, executive director of Equality California, the organization that co-sponsored the Transgender student law, told ABC News he was alarmed by the initiative effort.

'Protecting this law is our number-one priority, and we will put everything we've got into it,' O'Connor said, adding that he believes public opinion is opposed to discrimination against LGBT people.

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