The next Prop 8? Opponents submit signatures to repeal transgender students’ rights in CA

Stop BulliesIn August, California passed a law to protect public school student’s rights to participate in activities like sports and use facilities based on their gender identity. This is an important and groundbreaking step to make sure trans and gender non-conforming students have full access to the public education that is there right. So of course religious conservatives are trying to repeal the law, because coming after our children is clearly the Christian thing to do.

From the AP:

Frank Schubert, the political strategist handling the signature gathering effort for conservative groups, said Sunday that the group submitted 620,000 signatures to get the initiative on the November 2014 ballot. To qualify, at least 505,000 valid signatures must be submitted.

If the name Frank Schubert rings a bell, it’s because he was also the strategist behind California’s Prop 8 as well as successful campaigns against gay marriage in Maine and North Carolina. Now that he’s lost on marriage, he’s moving on to attacking trans kids. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an anti-LGBT group that likes bullying as a tactic, is behind the campaign, and has put together a coalition called Privacy for All Students (read: Invading the Privacy of Trans Students). They organized groups of volunteers from conservative churches to collect signatures throughout the state.

Attacking trans kids is apparently PJI’s favorite thing to do. Recently, they came after a trans girl in Colorado with completely false claims that she was harassing other students in the bathroom. Their harassment of the girl led to her ending up on suicide watch. This CA referendum is a similar form of bullying, but scaled up to the state level instead of a personal attack.

This cruelty from adults can show young people how to interact, too. Recently, an agender teen was set on fire on a bus in Oakland. We absolutely need protections for trans students in this state. And we don’t need groups like PJI spreading the message that it’s OK to vilify and attack someone because their gender doesn’t match perceived norms.

We can hope the group has not gathered enough signatures to get the referendum on the ballot. Buzzfeed spoke with Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center:

“We won’t know the final count of valid signatures for several weeks; however, based on prior referendum efforts in California, they likely needed to submit more than 620,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot,” Davis said. “No matter how this plays out, we will stand with our youth and their families and fight every effort to restrict their opportunity to succeed in school.”

This referendum could very well be the next Prop 8, though, except this time it’s aimed squarely at kids. We’ll need the full effort of everyone involved in changing the tide on gay marriage to join this fight. And we’ll need to do much more than stop the referendum; we need to make it actively clear that trans kids are loved, welcomed, and included. Because every action this campaign takes, every public statement it makes, is bullying trans kids, some of the most vulnerable people in our society.


Jos Truitt Jos Truitt hopes everyone will actually think of the children.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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