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SACRAMENTO – Anti-gay groups tonight said they have failed to gather enough signatures to force a November referendum to nix the FAIR Education Act (SB 48), California’s law that requires public schools to integrate age-appropriate and factual information about historical roles of LGBT people, people with disabilities and people of color into existing social science instruction.
The Stop SB 48 coalition said they fell short of the 500,000 valid signatures needed to force a vote on the Children Learning Accurate Social Science (CLASS) Act, which would have essentially repealed the FAIR Education Act.
The petitions were due today to state officials, but coalition officials estimated that they only had 446,000 valid signatures after eliminating ones judged to be faulty.
"Placing a measure on the ballot through grassroots efforts alone has not been done in California in recent memory. Although history was against us, our conscience compelled the coalition to fight this battle rather than doing nothing," said Kevin Snider, chief counsel to Pacific Justice Institute and the author of the wording for the CLASS Act.
The coalition included well-known anti-gay groups in California: Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Faith and Public Policy, Capitol Resource Institute, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, Pacific Justice Institute, Western Center for Law and Policy, Traditional Values Coalition, Korean Gospel Broadcast Co., Organization for Justice and Equality, United Families International, Alliance Defense Fund, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.
To date, at least five initiative attempts have been launched, and failed, in a blatant attempt to remove all references to LGBT people in school textbooks in California. All five initiatives are clearly discriminatory in nature because they target LGBT people for exclusion in textbooks. Some of the initiatives also target people with disabilities and Pacific Islanders, and change racial identities, for example, from Mexican Americans to Mexicans.
The FAIR Education Act, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California and Gay-Straight Alliance Network, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last year and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
“What our opponents have shown us is that they will seize any opportunity, however small, to launch large-scale attacks on LGBT people. The FAIR Education Act was created from a basic concept: that California schools should teach accurate history that is inclusive of the roles of all people," Clarissa Filgioun, board chairman of Equality California, has said.
Snider stressed that the coalition used only volunteers and did not hire professional signature gatherers. He also said the coalition may attempt legal methods to mitigate the law, but gave no details.
Gay rights groups and their allies did not immediately respond to the news.