Arts & Entertainment
Transmission: Lies Can't Stop The Law
by Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Originally printed 1/16/2014 (Issue 2203 - Between The Lines News)
Shortly after a sphere made of crystal and LED lights glided down a 141-foot pole in New York, a new law took affect some 3,000 miles to the west. The law is the California Success and Opportunity Act, otherwise known as Assembly Bill 1266. The bill passed the California State Legislature in July, and was sign by Governor Jerry Brown a month later.
The bill itself is simple: it prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of gender, gender identity, and gender expression. It requires that students be permitted to participate in any sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams, and to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.
The bill is the first of its kind for any state to enact, although many school districts - including some of the most populace school districts in California - have had this on their books for up to a decade. Now, for the first time, gender-nonconforming students from as far north as Fort Dick to as far south as San Ysidro have the ability to use facilities consistent with their gender identity or expression regardless of their records at admission.
It is, in my opinion, also important to note that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the California Education Code, have both been interpreted in recent years as requiring students to be treated equally in regards to gender identity or expression. It can easily be argued, then, that AB 1266 is simply clarifying these interpretations. This does not downplay the importance of AB 1266 in the grand scheme of things, however.
This is not the first time I've discussed AB 1266, nor shall it be the last. This is a landmark bill, and there are many out there who would wish to see it struck down. Of those, the most prominent is the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization that focuses on conservative issues including, of course, stemming the tide of LGBT rights.
The Pacific Justice Institute is also part of a slightly broader coalition group called Privacy For All Students, which organized a petition drive to get a ballot measure to repeal AB 1266.
That these groups fight against this bill is more than simply living up to their mission statements: the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Proposition 8 and allowing for same-sex marriage in California was a stinging defeat for the Pacific Justice Institute, and they are clearly looking for what they might hope is an easy victory to keep their coffers full of cash from wealthy conservative donors.
Since before the bill's passage, the Pacific Justice Institute and Privacy For All Students has worked hard to frame this bill as "the school bathroom bill" or the "co-ed bathroom bill," claiming - at best - that this bill will lead to co-ed changing and restroom facilities at schools. That is when they are not claiming that droves of young men will suddenly claim to be transgender merely to ogle "your 7-year-old daughter" in the restroom.
AB 1266 includes no language requiring "co-ed" facilities. Also, there have been no known cases of a student claiming to be transgender for the sole purpose of sexually harassing opposite gender students. Naturally, AB 1266 does not make sexual harassment - let alone worse crimes - legal due to the gender identity or expression of a student.
Privacy For All Students turned in over 619,000 signatures in their attempt to force a ballot measure. An additional 5,000 signatures gained in Mono and Tulare counties were not initially included as they were turned in after the November 10 deadline. The 10th was a Sunday, and the 11th was Veteran's Day, which meant that the State offices were closed.
The Pacific Justice Institute has claimed the California Superior Court has since ordered that those additional signatures were filed on time, regardless of the deadline. In spite of their press release, they only asked the judge to issue a statement that - based purely on preliminary non-trial evidence - they would side with the PJI. No such trial has taken place, and no order has been filed compelling the state to include those extra signatures.
This has also not stopped the Pacific Justice Institute and other conservative sources from claiming that the bill is on hold or otherwise not in effect. "Because the signatures have been filed, the implementation of the law is suspended until the final signature tally," claimed a December 30 press release from the PJI. "After that, the law will continue to lie dormant until the voters render their judgment in the November 2014 election."
Of course, you can merely go to the first sentence of this column to see that this is wrong: the law went into effect on the 1st of January, and will remain so until they have all their signatures in place.
In spite of all those shenanigans, it still must be shown that a total of 504,760 valid signatures were gathered. As of this writing, it appears that Privacy For All Students may not make the goal. They need to have a 95 percent validity rate, and at current, only about 78 percent of the signatures gathered have been shown to be valid.
Schools are meant to be safe and nurturing environments where all students can learn. This includes students who are transgender. According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, over two thirds of such students feel unsafe in school. More than a quarter have reported physical violence.
The Pacific Justice Institute and Privacy For All Students are showing that they will stoop to any level to win. It's important to unmask their lies, and keep all of us safe.Gwen Smith was bullied in a California school. You'll find her at http://www.gwensmith.com