The latest battle in California is over 37 words. They are the final clause in a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this summer affirming the rights of transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. On Friday, groups led by the same strategist who masterminded the successful drive to ban gay marriage in California will submit a petition to the state that could lead to the landmark measure being overturned, reports Time Magazine.
“Opponents of the statute, the first of its kind in the United States, say the language is too broad and that it neglects the privacy rights of most students for the benefit of a few. Supporters say the measure helps foster acceptance for transgender students, who can feel alienated by the rigid gender distinctions of his-or-her bathrooms and school sports teams.
“The law’s challengers need to submit 505,000 valid signatures from California residents, roughly 5% of voters who cast ballots in the most recent governor’s race, to get a referendum to overturn it on the ballot in November. Frank Schubert, the consultant who spearheaded the Proposition 8 effort to ban gay marriage that was overturned by the Supreme Court this summer, has rallied social conservatives. He says by Monday they hope to turn in more than 700,000 signatures, amassed over three months by volunteers, paid workers, direct mail and more than 750 churches.
“Here is the passage at the heart of the matter:
“A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
“Schubert says there would not be a push for a referendum if the language had included more caveats, like requiring that transgender students had an established history of presenting themselves as male or female. As it’s worded, he believes that non-transgender teenagers will abuse the law, though he concedes there are no documented cases to back up those fears. “Somebody claiming to be a girl can go into the girls’ showers and bathroom and the locker room and can play on the girls sports team,” he says. “There are no procedures to balance the interest of all students.”