- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The effort to put California’s transgender “bathroom law” before the voters passed an official hurdle Wednesday and is now in the next qualifying stage.

The California Secretary of State’s Election Division released a sampled tally estimating that the referendum received the equivalent of 482,582 valid signatures in the state’s 58 counties.

This was more than the bare minimum of 479,522 signatures needed to advance in the process, but not the estimate of 504,760 that would have put the measure on the ballot immediately.

Instead, every county now must try to verify every signature among the almost 620,000 submitted. If 504,760 signatures have been verified in this more painstaking process by Feb. 24, the measure will appear on November’s ballot and California voters can decide whether to accept or reject the Legislature’s School Success and Opportunity Act.

Privacy for All Students, the coalition that is behind the referendum, thanked its supporters for taking a stand “for the privacy of children in our California schools.”

“We wait with anticipation as we move into the next phase of the referendum process. We feel confident that a full count will result in us securing 100 percent of the signatures needed to put this referendum on the ballot,” the organization said.

Supporters of the law noted Wednesday that the referendum lacked enough valid signatures to have it qualify for the ballot immediately.

“As we wait for a full count of the signatures, we will continue to help schools implement policies that ensure all students are able to participate,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center.

The legislation, enacted in August, is intended to give transgender students more leeway to decide which bathrooms, locker rooms and showers they will use, and which sports teams or other sex-segregated school activities they will join.

California law has long prohibited discrimination against transgender students, but has permitted school officials to work out the details with the students and their families.

The law was supported by more than 40 organizations, which agreed that previous laws were not strong enough to prevent discrimination, and transgender students must be able to choose their teams and facilities freely, based on their gender identities.

Many Californians opposed the law, saying they don’t want their children to find people of the opposite sex in bathrooms and other personal settings.

Privacy for All Students quickly organized the referendum effort to block the law and collected nearly 620,000 signatures by Nov. 10.

The measure is designated by the state as No. 1598, with the purpose of overturning “non-discrimination requirements for school programs and activities.”

Last week, a California state judge required the secretary of state’s office to accept some 5,000 signatures on the referendum from two counties. The state office had rejected the signatures, saying they were submitted too late, but the judge ruled that they were submitted in a timely manner.

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