This time they’ve gone too far.
Many Californians, and people across the country, were left shaking their heads in disbelief when they learned about the new law the California Legislature enacted mandating that any student be given access to sensitive school facilities like showers, bathrooms and locker rooms reserved for the opposite sex based on a claim that the student “identifies” with the opposite gender. It’s the only law like it ever enacted by a Legislature anywhere in the country.
A new poll conducted by SmithJohnson Research for the Privacy For All Students coalition shows that voters strongly oppose this law and are very likely to flush it if given the opportunity. (Sorry, I couldn’t’ resist.) The poll found that only 35% of voters support the new law, while 51% oppose it.
The encouraging news pointing to voter rejection of the law is despite an obvious attempt by California Attorney General Kamala Harris to bias voters in favor of a vote to approve it. She gave the referendum the title of, “Overturns non-discrimination requirements for school programs and activities.”
It’s certainly encouraging that voters see through the biased wording of the referendum’s title and reject the underlying concept of opening vulnerable school facilities to members of the opposite sex. This is because not even Kamala Harris can hide the actual provisions of the law that clearly and unambiguously provide that use of sex-segregated school facilities be based on “gender identity” and not the actual sex of the student.
As someone who would manage the campaign to urge voter rejection of the law, of more importance to me than the encouraging 16 point vote advantage is where the intensity of opinion lies.
The intensity of opinion is clearly on the side of those who wish the law to be rejected. The SmithJohnson Research survey found that only 23% feel strongly that the law should be approved, while 41% feel strongly that the law should be rejected – nearly a two-to-one advantage for opponents.
There’s another built-in advantage for those who are mounting the referendum against the new law, which was enacted by the passage of AB 1266 (Ammiamo) – even though we are the proponents of the referendum, once it qualifies for the ballot we will be urging voters to cast a “no” vote. That is because the question that goes before voters is whether the law enacted by the Legislature should be approved or rejected. A “yes” vote approves the new law, while a “no” vote rejects it.
I don’t have much question in my mind that the new law will be rejected given a decent campaign against it. The real question is whether referendum proponents can gather enough signatures to give voters the opportunity to decide the issue.
It requires 504,760 valid signatures of California voters to put a law like this on the ballot. Referendum proponents have only 80 days to collect the necessary signatures after factoring in the time Kamala Harris had to write a biased Title & Summary of the law. Signatures must be submitted by early November.
The good news is that once signatures are submitted, the new law is suspended and never takes effect. It will remain on hold until voters are able to decide the issue in November 2014.
As I speak with Californians about the referendum campaign to reject this new law, I hear a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm as people learn there is a plan in place to win. Occasionally I encounter someone who is so fed up with Sacramento that they’ve lost hope for our state. Some are advancing extremely impractical responses, such as telling parents to remove their kids from public schools and enroll them in private or church-based schools. Well, as a parent who was fortunate enough to send my kids to parochial and private schools, I am also acutely aware that this is not an affordable option for most California families.
But there IS an option that is within the power of every California parent and taxpayer to exercise, and that is to join the Privacy For All Students referendum campaign. Please go to the campaign website to download a petition, along with petition instructions. Then ask your family, friends and neighbors to join you in signing the petition.
While you’re at it, please also make a donation to the campaign so that we have the resources needed to mount a successful ballot qualification effort. In addition to the work of thousands of volunteers, we must also utilize professional petition circulators to give us a needed cushion. Because of the limited timeframe to gather signatures, there’s never been a successful referendum effort mounted solely by volunteers.
The referendum qualification effort is well underway, and enthusiasm is high. If this can be maintained and matched with a prudent fundraising component, I’m optimistic that voters will have the chance to vote on this misguided new law. Once qualified for the ballot, I am confident they will reject it.
Frank Schubert is president of Mission Public Affairs, LLC and has managed 14 statewide referendum and ballot initiative campaigns in California, winning 13 of those contests. He is a frequent contributor to FlashReport.