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BREAKING! Bid to overturn California's transgender law fails

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Anti-gay, anti-trans hate groups have failed in their attempt to place a referendum on the November ballot with the goal of overturning California's trailblazing law that protect transgender students from discrimination.

The Secretary of State's Office today announced that a full check of signatures showed that the referendum effort failed to collect enough support to qualify for the November ballot. The referendum effort needed 504,760 valid signatures, and the State said that 487,484 signatures were valid after the full count was released at 5 pm today.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, into law last year. It went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law guarantees transgender students equal access to restrooms, locker rooms and sports teams that corresponds with the student's gender identity.

Fighting the law are the anti-gay, anti-trans hate groups, including the Capitol Resource Center, Pacific Justice Institute and National Organization for Marriage. All were involved in the passage of California's Proposition 8, which proved to be unconstitutional.

The hate groups have hinted previously that they most likely would file a lawsuit should they fail to qualify the referendum. Their tactics include invoking fear and misunderstanding, plus mistruths and outright lies.

Supporters of the law say that transgender students should have the same rights as all other students.

The School Success and Opportunity Act helps schools across the state understand their obligation to provide a fair opportunity for transgender students to participate equally in all school programs, facilities and activities. The law has been welcomed by school officials, teachers, and parents for educating California schools about meeting the educational needs of these students. Both state and federal law already prohibits discrimination against transgender students, and many school districts, have had supportive policies in place for years. But before the School Success and Opportunity Act, many schools did not understand how to fulfill their obligations to support these students.

The new law has already had a significant impact. Since it was enacted last year, several school districts have already adopted new policies to protect transgender students, and the California School Board Association has issued guidance that instructs schools to handle each request by a transgender student, or his or her parent, on a case-by-case basis so that the unique educational needs of every student can be met.

EQCA reacts

Shortly after the news broke this afternoon, Equality California issued this release regarding the law:

Today, the effort to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act — California’s new law ensuring that all children have opportunities to do well in school — failed to qualify for the ballot.

The law — also known as Assembly Bill 1266 — went into effect on January 1, ensuring that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

The law is modeled after policies and practices that are already working well in several schools, and gives important guidance to educators so they can work with students and families on a case-by-case basis.

Oakland’s Redwood Heights School is among the California schools with policies in place that provide transgender young people with fair chances. Like other schools with similar policies across the state, the policy has been successful since it was established five years ago.

“We want our students to know that when they walk onto this campus, they are welcomed for who they are,” said Redwood Heights Principal Sara Stone. “Every educator I know went into the education field because they truly care about young people and making sure they have everything they need to do well in school.”

The law helps students like Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl from the Los Angeles area who transferred out of her school after administrators there refused to acknowledge her as a girl or allow her to use the girls’ restroom. Her mom, Ofelia Barba, says that the law makes it easier for her daughter to go to school and be herself.

“I love my daughter and want the same things for her that other parents want for their children,” Barba said. “I want what’s best for her, for her to be happy, and for her to be able to do well in school. No one wants to see any kid singled out and excluded from school because of who they are.”

The Support All Students campaign comprises a broad coalition of nearly 100 state and national organizations supporting the new law. The coalition includes Equality California, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU of California, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Gender Spectrum, LGBT organizations, racial justice organizations, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and others committed to ensuring that all kids have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

Said Transgender Law Center Executive Director and Campaign Chair Masen Davis: “This law gives schools the guidelines and flexibility to create an environment where all kids have the opportunity to learn. We need to focus on creating an environment where every student is able to do well and graduate. This law is about doing what’s best for all students — that’s why it’s supported by school boards, teachers, and the PTA.”

To learn more about the School Success and Opportunity Act and the Support All Students campaign, visit www.SupportAllStudents.org.