Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Judge Rejects Changing the Name of California's Trans Youth Ballot Measure
gvw_calmatters
By CalMatters
Published 1 month ago on
April 23, 2024

Supporters of a California trans youth ballot measure wanted to change the name assigned by the attorney general, but a judge said no. (CalMatters/Miguel Gutierrez Jr.)

Share

A group working on a fall ballot initiative that would limit the rights of transgender students lost a round in court Monday when a judge sided with the state in its description of the measure.

Author Profile Picture
Carolyn Jones

CalMatters

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto ruled that Attorney General Rob Bonta’s title, “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth,” is a fair description of the initiative, which would require schools to notify parents if a student identifies as transgender, ban gender-affirming care for those under 18 and place other limits on students who identify as a gender other than what they were assigned at birth.

The ruling is a setback for the group, dubbed Protect Kids California, as it tries to meet a May 28 deadline to collect 550,000 signatures to qualify for the fall ballot. The group has so far raised just over 200,000 signatures, organizers said.

Protect Kids California, led by Roseville school board member Jonathan Zachreson, put forth the initiative in November, calling it the “Protect Kids of California Act,” but a day after the group filed its paperwork with the Secretary of State, Bonta gave the initiative a new name and summary. The new name, “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth,” and description made it harder to collect signatures and donations, Zachreson said, leading the group to sue for a name they said would be more reflective of the initiative’s goals.

“Clearly the judge got it wrong,” Zachreson said Monday. “We’re exploring other options, including an appeal. But the fight for California’s kids goes on.”

It’s not unusual for groups to sue the state attorney general over ballot initiative language, in hopes of getting a more persuasive name or summary. Ballot language can significantly influence voters’ opinions of initiatives, according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, especially among voters who aren’t well informed on issues. Judges usually side with the attorney general, citing a state election code that says the court should overturn the attorney general’s ballot language “only upon clear and convincing proof that the material in question is false, misleading, or inconsistent.” As Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl put it in 2020, “The court is not a copy editor.”

Beyond the current initiative, challenges to LGBTQ student rights have been erupting at school boards up and down California for at least a year, largely at the behest of Assemblyman Bill Essayli, a Republican from Riverside. Essayli proposed a bill in 2023 that would require schools to notify parents about students’ gender identity, and when the bill didn’t get a hearing in the Assembly education committee he took his campaign directly to school boards.

School boards in Chino, Temecula, Roseville, Rocklin and Anderson are among those that have recently passed parental notification policies, stoking the wrath of Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom. In September, Bonta sued Chino Valley Unified over its policy, claiming it’s discriminatory, and a judge granted a preliminary injunction in October.

Protect Kids CA originally proposed three separate initiatives addressing the rights of transgender students but last fall combined them into one. If it passes, the initiative would:

  • Require students to use bathrooms that align with the gender they were assigned at birth
  • Prohibit transgender girls in seventh grade or older from participating in girls sports or other girls-only activities
  • Ban gender-affirming health care — including surgery or hormone treatment — for transgender students under age 18, even if parents consent or the treatment is recommended by a doctor
  • Require schools to notify parents if students change their pronouns or otherwise signal they identify as a gender other than what’s on their official student records

At a hearing Friday, Zachreson’s group argued that the state’s ballot language is biased and misleading, and doesn’t accurately reflect what the initiative would do. Bonta’s summary says the initiative would require parental notification “without exception,” but Zachreson’s group argued that schools would be required under existing law to not inform parents if students would be subject to abuse or neglect at home as a result.

Attorneys also argued over the definition of “privacy.” The California Department of Education says that students have a right to privacy on issues related to their gender identity. Attorneys for Protect Kids CA argued that the policy was never approved by voters, courts or the Legislature, and in fact federal law says parents have a right to view student records.

Equality California, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ policies in California, said that the initiative is part of a broader campaign attacking queer youth nationwide. Book bans, bathroom restrictions and sports team prohibitions are cropping up throughout the country.

“California should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, which is why we have longstanding laws in effect that protect and preserve the rights of LGBTQ+ youth and their families,” said Equality California spokesman Tom Temprano. “This initiative seeks to undo these critical protections and make our schools and communities less safe for all youth.”

About the Author

Carolyn Jones covers K-12 education for CalMatters. Previously, she worked at EdSource, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune. She recently served as a Fulbright Specialist in Albania focusing on media literacy. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she’s a longtime Oakland resident.

About CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics

 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

DON'T MISS

Local Dealership Family Buys Fresno Infiniti. Where Is It Going?

DON'T MISS

California Bill Would End ‘Gender Police’ Reports From Public Schools to Parents

DON'T MISS

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

DON'T MISS

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

DON'T MISS

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

DON'T MISS

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

DON'T MISS

Trump Prosecutor Emphasizes ‘Cover-Up’ in Closing Arguments; Defense Targets Key Witness

DON'T MISS

Clovis Detectives Quickly Arrest Suspects in Construction Equipment Theft at Church

UP NEXT

UC Workers’ Strike Spreads to UCLA & UC Davis Amid Free Speech Controversy

UP NEXT

Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

UP NEXT

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

UP NEXT

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

UP NEXT

Fresno Trustees Have Two Days of Homework This Weekend. What Is It About?

UP NEXT

California Supreme Court Weighs Two Cases That Could Limit the Ballot Initiative Process

UP NEXT

Fresno State Faculty: Stop Diverting Money from Academics to Athletics

UP NEXT

Central Unified Gets $8 Million Grant to Bring Community Services to Schools

UP NEXT

California Health Sciences University Celebrates Inaugural Doctors Graduation Ceremony

UP NEXT

How California’s Bursting Budget Morphed into a $45 Billion Deficit in Just Two Years

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

8 hours ago

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

9 hours ago

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

9 hours ago

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

11 hours ago

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

11 hours ago

Trump Prosecutor Emphasizes ‘Cover-Up’ in Closing Arguments; Defense Targets Key Witness

11 hours ago

Clovis Detectives Quickly Arrest Suspects in Construction Equipment Theft at Church

12 hours ago

Fresno ‘Flirts’ with Hot Weather. When Will Triple Digits Arrive?

12 hours ago

Albert Ruddy, Oscar-Winning Producer of ‘the Godfather’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ Dies at 94

12 hours ago

Who Bears Some Blame for High CA Gas Prices? Look in the Mirror

12 hours ago

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

Dennis Falaschi — indicted two years ago in an alleged $25 million federal water theft — pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to s...

6 hours ago

6 hours ago

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

7 hours ago

Local Dealership Family Buys Fresno Infiniti. Where Is It Going?

8 hours ago

California Bill Would End ‘Gender Police’ Reports From Public Schools to Parents

8 hours ago

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

9 hours ago

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

9 hours ago

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

11 hours ago

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

11 hours ago

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend