DEMOCRACY NOW! California’s choose-your-own locker room law faces ballot drive

Eric Owens | Editor

California conservatives say they’ve collected enough signatures to prevent a law from taking effect that would allow transgender public school students to choose the bathrooms they want to use and the sports teams they want to join regardless of their sex at birth.

State officials must verify that the signatures come from registered voters, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The signature verification process could take several weeks.

If the state deems that at least 505,000 of the 620,000 submitted signatures are valid, the law — commonly known as Assembly Bill 1266 — will no longer be implemented on Jan. 1. Instead, the issue will appear on a November 2014 ballot.

California voters would then decide if students with penises should use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for males and students with vaginas should use restrooms designated for females, or if those places should be free-for-alls based on how students say they feel.

The primary architect behind this ballot battle is Republican strategist Frank Schubert. His group, Privacy for All Students, worked closely with socially conservative churches to gather the signatures.

Schubert is the same guy who organized support for Proposition 8, a 2008 constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage in The Golden State.

A series of federal court decisions later overturned Prop. 8 and, thus, the expressed will of California’s voters.

Schubert said he expects the signature verification process to “be close — one way or another,” according to the Chronicle.

Karen England, another organizer of Privacy for All Students, is more optimistic.

“As far as we are aware, this is the largest number of volunteer signatures ever submitted in a California referendum campaign,” she told the paper. “It shows the degree of opposition that exists to opening the most vulnerable areas of public schools to the opposite sex.”

Supporters of the choose-your-own bathroom law insist that allowing students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t match their genitalia is a vital civil rights issue. They also say it’s necessary to prevent bullying.

California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released a statement expressing his strong support for the law, according to San Diego LGBT Weekly.

“This law is about making sure there is a safe place for transgender students to fully participate in their schools,” Pérez said. “For too long, transgender members of our society have suffered through the indignity of exclusion, and this bill rights those wrongs by giving protections that would keep transgender students safe and give them recognition for who they truly are.”

Charles Moran, head of the California Log Cabin Republicans, at the state’s Republican convention in August, took a more nuanced opposing view.

“We are now going to have another Prop. 8 fight on our hands,” said Moran.

Moran added that the law is “bad legislation,” notes the Chronicle, because Democrats didn’t reach across the aisle to work with Republicans when they wrote it.

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