California state officials have been ordered to accept some 5,000 signatures in support of reversing a new gender-identity law, after having refused filings from two counties that they said were “filed” improperly.
Supporters of Privacy for All Students have collected some 620,000 signatures — more than the 504,760 needed — to reverse AB 1266, which permits transgender students to choose which sex-segregated teams they will join and which facilities such as toilets they will use.
The law touched off an uproar among Californians who do not like the idea of students sharing locker rooms, showers and bathrooms with students of the opposite sex. California’s 58 counties have been sending in tallies of the signatures, with the state’s deadline set for Nov. 10.
But since that date was a Sunday, during the Veterans’ Day holiday weekend, county officials in Mono and Tulare Counties were not available to accept the signatures when they were delivered to the offices Nov. 8 and Nov. 9. Instead the counties submitted them to the state the next work week.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen said the signatures could not be accepted because they were handled by officials after the Nov. 10 deadline.
Attorneys for Privacy for All Students sued to have the signatures accepted, and on Friday, Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner in Sacramento agreed.
The signatures were delivered in a timely manner and must be accepted, Judge Sumner said in his ruling in Gleason v. Bowen. The referendum process “is the exercise by the people of a power reserved to them, and not the exercise of a right granted to them,” he added, citing “settled” case law.
“These rights are too important for the secretary of state, or a county clerk, to play politics when they don’t like a particular referendum,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which was instrumental in bringing the case for the 5,000 signatures.
California schools are already prohibited from discriminating against transgender students, and school officials currently work with students and their families to address pertinent issues. However, gay-rights groups and some transgender students said the old policy was not sensitive enough, and students needed to be able to make these decisions by themselves.
California state officials are scheduled to announce Wednesday whether the citizen-driven referendum can proceed.