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Phil Matier: California Conservatives Target New Transgender Student Law

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(Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

(Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Social conservative groups are pushing for a ballot measure to overturn a law that protects the rights of transgender students and they expect to have a better idea about whether the issue will go before voters this fall.

The School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, codifies state law when it comes to dealing with transgender students. After counseling, the student can decide which sex they want to be classified as, which restroom they might use, and which gender sports teams they would play on.

After it passed the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in August, conservative groups quickly collected signatures to put the repeal on the ballot.

Many thought with the law passed the state legislature would move on to the next issue, but social conservatives hit the churches over a weekend and they put this front and center saying “not so fast.”

It’s already become political because  Secretary of State Debra Bowen didn’t want to accept some 5,000 signatures from Tulare and Mono counties that were turned in after Veteran’s Day weekend. A judge has since determined that those signatures must be counted. If it makes it to the ballot, I see the issue becoming national and probably even international news.

The challenge for backers of law is that unlike gay marriage—in which many people know adult gay couples—many don’t know or have little experience with these kids or even know what the term ‘transgender’ means.

So when it comes to kids and the classroom, I’m not sure which way voters will go in the privacy of a ballot box.

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