Anti-transgender initiative from Protect Kids CA fails to qualify for ballot

Anti-transgender California ballot initiative Protect Kids CA

The Orange County Pride Parade makes its way through downtown Santa Ana. A proposed California initiative targeting the rights of transgender youth that would ban gender-affirming health care, block them from certain sports, and potentially violate student privacy failed to qualify for the November ballot. Photo: @ayyosunny

A proposed California initiative targeting the rights of transgender youth that would ban gender-affirming health care, block them from certain sports, and potentially violate student privacy failed to qualify for the November ballot.

Protect Kids CA, who launched the measure, said the group failed to collect 546,651 valid signatures required to appear on the ballot. The group said it gathered approximately 400,000 signatures and raised close to $200,000.

Republican Assembly member Bill Essayli, of Riverside, who introduced AB 1314 last year, supported the proposed measure. Essayli has been credited by various Christian nationalist school board members across the state for encouraging them to pass “parental notification” policies after his bill failed to get a hearing in the Assembly. 

“While we are disappointed we didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for the ballot, we are encouraged by the amount of support from every sector of the state,” Protect Kids CA wrote in a statement on Instagram Tuesday.

Safety Act would ban forced outing policies in California

The group, whose leaders include Erin Friday, an attorney and “parents’ rights” activist, and Roseville City School District board trustee Jonathan Zachreson, vowed to continue fighting in its false and misleading statement.

“Our message is simple,” the statement said. “Schools shouldn’t keep secrets from parents; we should protect girls’ sports and private spaces at school; and we should protect kids from unproven, life-altering and often sterilizing medical procedures. 

“We vow to continue fighting for these principles,” the group said.

A coalition of leading LGBTQ+ and allied organizations released a statement after the anti-trans group announced its failure.

“We are relieved that this dangerous initiative did not meet the required signature threshold to appear on the ballot,” the coalition said in a joint statement.

The coalition includes several members: Equality California, TransFamily Support Services, The TransLatin@ Coalition, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, ACLU California Action, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Justice LA, California TRANScends, Tranz of Anarchii Inc.

“This extremist proposal sought to ban essential healthcare for transgender youth, forcibly out transgender students without consent or regard for their safety, and ban transgender youth from accessing school facilities or playing sports that correspond with their gender identity,” the statement said.

The proposed initiative had three parts:

  • Require school staff to tell a student’s parent if a student wants to use a name or pronoun that does not align with their gender identity
  • Prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and require schools to restrict bathrooms to students’ gender assigned at birth
  • Ban all gender-affirming health care, even with parental approval, for trans youth under the age of 18

Protect Kids CA filed petition paperwork in August, initially calling the proposal Protect Kids of California Act. State ballot measures are given Title and Summary from the Attorney General’s office, which Rob Bonta did in November.

He changed the title to Restrict the Rights of Trans Youth.

Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School District over its forced outing policy. In October, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Sachs temporarily blocked the policy from being implememented as it makes its way through the courts. 

Protect Kids CA called the new title “false and misleading,” and filed a lawsuit challenging the change.

A superior court judge denied their motion, siding with the attorney general, in April.

Last week, California legislators introduced a bill that would ban “parental notification” policies like the one included in the failed ballot measure.

Similar policies have been introduced in approximately 12 school districts throughout the state.

Several of them have been challenged in court and none have been enforced.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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