Proposed gender identity measure fails to qualify for California ballot

Californians will not be voting on a policy this November that would have required the schools to inform parents if a child asked to change gender.

The supporters of a ballot initiative to create a state-wide policy for such an issue announced on Tuesday that they had not collected enough signatures to bring the measure to voters in this fall. The supporters said that it would have given parents the transparency they needed. Opponents said that it could have put children in danger who didn’t live with welcoming families.

This year, so-called “parental notification” policies were a hot topic in California school districts. They led to legal battles between the state and some of them.

The measure’s supporters sued Attorney General Rob Bonta for his title and summary of the proposed ballot measure. They claimed it was biased and that it made it difficult for them to gather signatures. Bonta called the initiative “Restrict rights of transgender youth” but supporters wanted it changed to “Protect Kids of California Act”. They also wanted an updated summary.

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In a press release, campaign organizer Jonathan Zachreson stated that he was “disappointed” to not have met the threshold for qualifying on the ballot. However, he said despite his disappointment he was encouraged by the support gathered from all sectors of the state.

This proposed initiative would also have banned transgender students in grades 7 to college from taking part in women’s and girls’ sports. It would also have prohibited minors from having gender-affirming surgery.

Zachreson stated that the campaign had collected about 400,000 out of the 546.651 signatures required to get it on the ballot. He said that many of these signatures were from Southern California counties, including Los Angeles and Orange.

After a hearing held last month, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge sided with Bonta and said that his description of the proposed measure was accurate. Zachreson stated that the measure’s supporters plan to appeal. They hope that if they are successful, it will allow them to reopen their signature gathering process so that they can have another chance at getting on the ballot.

Last week, state legislators announced a bill that would prohibit school districts from adopting a policy that requires parents to be informed of a child’s sexual orientation or gender identification, with certain exceptions, including if the safety of the student is in danger.

This is part of an ongoing national debate about local school districts, parents’ rights and LGBTQ+ students. States have attempted to ban gender affirming care and bar trans athletes from women’s and girls’ sports. They also require schools to inform parents of transgender and nonbinary children. Other states have passed bills with broad language that requires parents to be informed of any changes in a child’s emotional well-being or health.