- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2013

Petitions are “pouring in” to block a new California law that opponents say will give boys the right to use girls’ bathrooms and showers.

If sufficient petitions are turned in Nov. 8 and verified, the new law, AB 1266, will be suspended until voters can decide whether to keep it or not in the November 2014 election. If the petition effort fails, the new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Some 505,000 signatures are needed, and the campaign is on track to be successful, said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute.

Ms. England declined to say exactly how many signatures had been collected, but when asked Friday whether she and other leaders of Privacy for All Students expect to have a positive announcement, Ms. England replied, “Absolutely.”

“The mail-in petitions are pouring in,” she said. “We are processing them as fast as we can.”

The coalition’s previously announced goal was to gather between 650,000 to 700,000 signatures by this Wednesday. Churches, civic groups and signature-gatherers, both paid and unpaid, were going to be active over the weekend, Ms. England said.

The Privacy for All Students coalition opposes the law because it believes it would force school officials to permit children and teens to decide — without evidence — which gender they perceive themselves to be, and to use restrooms, lockers, showers and facilities and join teams and activities that fit that gender.

“Imagine your daughter or granddaughter having a share a shower with a male student. All the male student has to do is claim a female gender identity, and AB 1266 gives him the absolute right to shower with female students,” the campaign says.

Under current law, transgender children and their families take steps to “assert” their preferred gender identity, and school districts — which must accommodate those identities “in some capacity” — craft plans with the parents and children to handle issues related to sex-segregated rooms and programs, Ms. England said.

AB 1266 has to be defeated because it ends “local discretion” in these matters, constitutes an “invasion of privacy” for students of the opposite sex, and steers the culture into “a genderless future,” the coalition says.

However, proponents of AB 1266 say the new law is necessary to spell out people’s rights and responsibilities regarding transgender students.

Despite current law, many transgender students — described as “young people whose sex at birth is opposite from who they know they are on the inside” — have been “improperly excluded” from school-based activities, programs and facilities, said SupportAllStudents.org, a website that supports AB 1266.

Ashton Lee, 16, of Manteca, Calif., is an example: Although he was dressing and presenting himself as a male, he was forced to be on girls’ teams at school. School officials were trying to force me “to live as someone I’m not,” the teen said in interviews this summer.

AB 1266 clarifies that transgender students must be allowed to participate in the athletic teams, competitions and any other school events, and use the restrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities, that are “consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

Efforts to overturn AB 1266 are an attack on the state’s “most vulnerable children,” supporters of the law said.

It is “a fear-mongering tactic to get parents alarmed,” John O’Connor, executive director of Equality California, told KNX-AM radio this week after parents rallied against AB 1266 at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Some 40 organizations, including the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Gender Spectrum, support the law, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed in August.