Anti-transgender referendum of AB 1266 Fails to Qualify

Referendum fell below required total in manual count

by Brian Leubitz

The good news has been quickly spreading: the referendum to overturn AB 1266, a bill to guarantee equal opportunity for transgender students, has failed to gather enough valid signatures. From the Transgender Law Center’s email just now:

Today, the effort to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act – California’s new law ensuring that all children have a fair opportunity to succeed in school – failed to qualify for the ballot.

California’s School Success and Opportunity Act – also known as AB 1266 – went into effect on January 1st 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 on policies and practices that are already working well in schools across the state, and gives important guidance to educators so they can work with students and families on a case-by-case basis.(Transgender Law Center)

The latest county by county count is available here (PDF). At the time of that document, supporters of the referendum were about 17,000 valid signatures short of the required total.

The proponents have indicated that they will investigate the invalid signatures, but the invalidity rate of 21.3% wasn’t that much higher than the typical 19-20% invalidity rate. They may try to challenge something or other in the courts, but it looks like there will be no fight on this particular issue in November.

In the end, the failure avoids what could have been a harsh battle for the transgender community. Asm. Tom Ammiano, who authored the bill, is always one to find a silver lining:

The good thing that comes out of this misguided referendum effort is that we were able to continue to educate people. It’s important that we begin to understand what transgender students are going through. I wish it was just a matter of ignorance. The forces putting this referendum together included the people that make money off promoting hate and professional fear mongers, who took advantage of what other people didn’t understand. Although it’s clear that California is moving in the direction of equality and respect, this does not mean the struggle is over. For every child like Pat Cordova – accepted on her Azusa High school’s softball team last week – there is another child living with a secret because of bullying. The people who belittle the rights of transgender students should know their efforts encourage the bullies. It is their intolerance that allows the violence to continue, and that violence affects every child, not just transgender students. They should be ashamed.