Californians jolted by the mental image of children sharing lavatories and locker rooms with opposite-sex classmates are campaigning to repeal the nation’s first law requiring schools to accommodate transgender pupils.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires all schools receiving state funds to let children choose between boys’ or girls’ bathrooms, for instance, and participate in sex-segregated sports teams based on their gender identity rather than their biological sex.
The drive to put a repeal on the ballot echoes a 2008 initiative, Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed by voters that banned same-sex unions. California resumed gay weddings in June following a Supreme Court ruling.
“It is just fundamentally wrong,” said Doug Boyd, a lawyer circulating petitions in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora. “It’s against the laws of God and nature.”
Boyd, 60, said he can’t stomach the idea of his 6- and 7-year-old daughters sharing school bathrooms, showers or locker rooms with a boy who sees himself as a girl.
A coalition led by the Capitol Resource Institute, a Sacramento-based nonprofit group that promotes itself as a “watchdog for family values,” is seeking about 500,000 signatures to put a repeal on the 2014 ballot.
“This law just goes way too far,” said Karen England, executive director of the institute and a co-leader of the petition drive. “We need to protect the privacy of all students, not just some students.”
Transgender people are those who are born as one sex, yet behave and maintain an appearance consistent with the other sex. While Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington andColorado have policies on transgender schoolchildren, only California has incorporated them into its laws, according to Equality California, the state’s largest gay-rights group.
The law’s supporters, which include the California State PTA and Governor Jerry Brown, a 75-year-old Democrat, underestimated the public backlash, Boyd said. He said he expects to easily obtain signatures to overturn the law in his neighborhood and at his 5,000-member church, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills.
“I have a 6-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old daughter in public schools and I’ll be darned if there are boys in their bathrooms,” Boyd said. He said he’d put the girls in another school before making them share bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams with opposite-sex peers.
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