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1st US state with transgender youth law challenged

November 11, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is the first U.S. state to pass a law detailing the rights of transgender students, but opponents of the law say they have collected enough support to get it repealed.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, and its goal is to reduce discrimination against transgender students from the age they enter school to the age they graduate secondary school. Critics argue the law violates the privacy of non-transgender students.

One of the law’s provisions allows transgender students to choose which restroom that want to use. It also gives them the choice of playing on either boys’ or girls’ sports teams.

A coalition of conservative groups called Privacy for all Students submitted 620,000 signatures to get the initiative on the November 2014 ballot, Frank Schubert, the political strategist handling the signature drive, said Sunday.

To qualify, at least 505,000 valid signatures must be submitted. The signatures must be reviewed, and if there are still enough to qualify, the initiative would qualify for the ballot.

John O’Connor, executive director of Equality California, the organization that co-sponsored the transgender student law, said he was alarmed by the initiative effort.

“Protecting this law is our number one priority, and we will put everything we’ve got into it,” O’Connor said, adding that he believes public opinion is opposed to discrimination against LGBT — or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — people.

The effort to repeal the law got a boost last month when the National Organization for Marriage, which organized the 2008 ballot initiative that outlawed gay marriage in California, joined the effort.

“It shows the degree of opposition that exists to opening the most vulnerable areas of public schools to the opposite sex,” Karen England of Capitol Resources Institute, a coalition member, said in a statement.

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