SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A referendum to overturn a new California law that provides transgender students certain rights in public schools will not appear on the November ballot because its backers failed to gather enough voter signatures to qualify the measure, the secretary of state said Monday.
The law's opponents needed at least 504,760 signatures to force a public vote on the statute approved by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. They submitted 619,387, but county election officers determined that just 487,484 of them were valid, according to a final count posted on the secretary of state's website.
The law at issue took effect Jan. 1. It guarantees students in grades K-12 the right to use the school restrooms and to participate in the sex-segregated activities that correspond with their expressed genders instead of their school records.
The coalition of religious conservative groups behind the repeal effort said it violates the privacy of youngsters who may be uncomfortable sharing facilities with classmates of the opposite biological sex. The law's supporters said it is needed to provide statewide consistency and to improve the school experiences of young people who decide to live by a gender different from the one they had at birth.
If the referendum had made the ballot, the law would have been put on hold until after the election as its supporters and opponents mounted a campaign that promised to be as bitterly fought as the one over Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in California until last year.
Karen England of the Privacy for All Students coalition said the proposed referendum's backers are not conceding defeat yet. They plan to review the disqualified signatures and, depending what they find, go to court to try to get enough added to the final tally so the measure would have to be put to voters.
"We are preparing for the next stage of the battle," England said in a statement. "After months of waiting, we now get to see why so many signatures were thrown out. Certainly some signers were not registered to vote or had moved without changing their address. But it is also certain that many of those signatures were rejected based on reasons that will not survive a legal challenge."
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