All kids should have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate. It’s that simple, really.
We promised to keep you updated on the status of a referendum attempt to overturn the School Success and Opportunity Act, or AB 1266, the law that came into effect on January 1 and ensures all kids can go to school, be themselves and do well. The early reports are encouraging.
Opponents of the law did not qualify on the first count, but met the threshold for a full, hand count of all their signatures. The opponents, many of whom were also behind Proposition 8, need to have gathered 504,760 valid signatures to qualify the referendum.
Early returns from the hand count suggest they are not uncovering the additional signatures they need. Of 58 counties, 40 have submitted their final signature counts, and 99,537 of those 125,894 signatures are valid. That is a validity rate of about 79 percent; less than the 81.4 percent they need to qualify. The remaining counties would need to dramatically improve over the spot check in order to make it to the ballot. It will still be close, but I am cautiously optimistic — unless there was a significant problem with the spot check — they will not have enough signatures. To be clear, it is possible, but very improbable, and we just won’t know until the final count. February 24 marks the final deadline for the state to complete a full count of the signatures submitted by opponents who are trying to repeal the law.
I’ve met young people whose lives are already being changed by AB 1266, and I know there are many more out there. For example, Ashton is a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca. He lives as a boy but was assigned to girls’ gym class — this singled him out and made going to school difficult. After learning about AB 1266, his school administrators met with him and his parents and made a plan for him to join the boys’ PE class. Now Ashton is happy and doing well at school. Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl in the Los Angeles area, has a supportive mom who says that the new law has already provided helpful guidance for her principal, teachers and classmates so that her little girl can be herself at school.
While I never would have chosen to have AB 1266 challenged like this, we have come together as a community to support these transgender kids. The students have been joined by their parents, friends and classmates. Together, Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GSA Network, Gender Spectrum, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and nearly 100 organizations have stepped up as part of the Support All Students effort to defend the law.
In related news, after losing in the federal appeals system three times, the opponents of the law are petitioning the US Supreme Court to support their cause.
Equality on Trial reports:
As anticipated, the group challenging California’s ban on so-called LGBT “conversion therapy” for minors has filed their petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case. A three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the law is constitutional, when Liberty Counsel brought a challenge on behalf of several anti-LGBT groups, including National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The challengers sought en banc review in the Ninth Circuit, a request for the case to be heard by a larger panel of 11 judges in that circuit. That request was denied by a majority of sitting judges.
Tenacious in their efforts to ensure some of our most vulnerable members have no protections, aren’t they?