Protections for transgender students in peril. Repeal efforts advance to full validation count

Even though California's transgender non-discrimination law, the School Success and Opportunity Act or AB1266, was signed into law last August, it still faces potential repeal. A coalition of anti-LGBT activist organizations collected hundreds of thousands of signatures to put the law up for a public vote in November. According to the California Secretary of State office, the number of signatures turned in wasn't enough to automatically make it onto the November ballot, but was enough to trigger a full count and validation of every individual signature. 

"Transgender youth are one of the most vulnerable populations in the country. It's disappointing that a fundamental understanding of transgender people could be manipulated into fear and misperception to the point where the protection and safety of our youth is voted upon," said Wilson Cruz, GLAAD's National Spokesperson. "It's extremely disheartening that these protections are even up for debate. We have a lot of work to do,"

AB1266 allows transgender public school students in grades K-12 to use facilities congruent to their gender identity as well as participate in sex-segregated programs and athletic teams. It would reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender youth by making it easier for them to participate in their high school experience fully while being comfortable in their own skin. 

AB1266 has sparked an outcry from anti-transgender groups who say that this law infringes on the right to privacy for non-trans students and has led to cruel fabricated stories of trans teens verbally and sexually harassing other youth. One of the most egregious was that of a young Colorado girl who was allegedly harassing other girls in her high school's restroom.. This tall tale was created by Pacific Justice Institute, an anti-gay conservative advocate group that leaked a fake news story to media outlets garnering national attention and debate. The result was a 17 year old transgirl receiving death threats and she was placed on suicide watch.

“Californians are relieved that the referendum did not qualify for the ballot during the initial signature verification phase, but are alarmed that this harmful attack on transgender students is proceeding to a full count," said John O'Connor, Executive Director of Equality California. "We vow to defend this law so that all students, including transgender students, can fully participate in school and get a fair shot at an education. As the next phase of signature verification proceeds, we are treating this as a pressing threat and will work tirelessly with our coalition partners to defeat this measure.”

Over 230 transgender people were murdered last year. According to the Hate Violence report by the Anti-Violence Project, transgender people are dispropotionately targeted as victims of anti-lgbt hate crimes. This is largely due to an overwhelmingly negative and fearful misperception of who and what being transgender is. Laws like the School Success and Opportunity Act can create a more inclusive environment building bridges between transgender people and potential allies while chipping away at stereotypes and fears.

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