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Jelly Belly Candy Chair and New York Hedge Fund Manager Underwriting Anti-Trans Student Initiative

Like to munch on those gummy bears or jelly beans or candy corn as you spruce up your Halloween costume? Well, for every handful of what you think might be good, clean fun or a childhood sense memory, you’re putting money into the pocket of one of the men who’s trying to take away the rights of trans and non-gender-conforming expressive students. 

These are kids like 12-year-old Jazz, who wanted to play on the girls’ soccer team at school, and 6-year-old Coy Mathis, whose family fought back after the school said she was not allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. For their courage—and that of their families—the two trans girls (pictured above) were honored by
GLAAD at the organization's 24th Media Awards gala in New York City last March 

Herman Rowland Sr., Chair of the Jelly Belly Candy Company, is a major contributor to the Privacy for All Students initiative campaign—led by Prop. 8 strategist Frank Schubert, who is now the political director for the National Organization for Marriage. Just as he did with the misrepresentations and scare tactics of the Prop. 8 campaign, Schubert is trying to collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot to repeal the historic “School Success and Opportunity Act, ” AB 1266, authored by out Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. The transgender student law goes into effect on Jan. 1, unless the measure qualifies, which would put the law on hold.

In a recent L.A. Times opinion piece, George Skelton interviewed both Schubert and Wendy Hill, identified as “a state Assembly staffer who helped guide a new transgender-rights law through the Legislature.”

"Our challenge is to get on the ballot," Schubert says. "If we do, I don't think we'll have a great deal of difficulty winning the campaign. Most people I talk to can't believe they [Gov. Brown, the California Legislature, Democrats] did this. What were they thinking? To say that we need to open up our school showers and bathrooms just doesn't make sense."

But Hill, the legislative staffer who also does private transgender counseling, says the common fear that a boy could be showering with girls, or vice versa, is outdated. Public schools generally haven't had open showers for many years, she says.
They can't afford the water, the towels or the janitorial service, she asserts, "and most important, they don't want to be responsible for watching all the naked minors" and worrying about accusations of teacher molestation. "In some schools that still have showers, they're single-stalled, with curtains."

"They have bathrooms and changing areas," Schubert counters. "Kids are going to be exposed."

Hill, a lesbian, responds that "the very last thing" transgender children want to expose is their genitalia: "It gives them away." They're not old enough to have had transgender surgery.

But wouldn't some straight boys fake it just to get their jollies in the girls' bathroom? Hill dismisses that notion.

She notes that Los Angeles and San Francisco schools have had transgender policies similar to AB 1266 for years and haven't reported any major problems.

To be considered transgender, she says, a student must be living the gender daily — not just momentarily wearing a bra to ogle girls in the bathroom, or to land on the girls' volleyball team where the boy could be a star.

In schools that don't have AB 1266 policies, Hill says, "some transgender students just don't go to the bathroom. They hold it all day long. There are higher incidences of urinary tract infections. They don't eat breakfast — the most important meal of the day — or even drink water in order to avoid going to the bathroom. Dehydrated, hungry kids aren't learning as well. They cut school and even leave school."

But Schubert says "the intensity of opinion is clearly" on his side. He cites a campaign poll that shows voters overwhelmingly rejecting the new law.”

So Schubert and company tell unsuspecting citizens and donors what they know will create that intensity, galvanize volunteers and raise lots of money to get the repeal measure on the ballot and pay Schubert’s salary. From his timeshare in Hawaii in early October, Schubert mocked the very idea of gender identity in a phoner with The Daily Beast.

“We accept these terms as if they have some deep-seated meaning and they don’t,” he told The Daily Beast. “'Gender identity' is the same thing as racial identity. Maybe you are confused about your gender, maybe you have a psychological disorder. That’s fine. But let’s not act as if gender identity is some innate, inborn characteristic of humanity because it’s not. It’s a political creation designed to advance an agenda.”

That despised LGBT 'agenda' others call equality. Sara Train, head of Project SPIN (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now) at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, works very closely with the Los Angeles Unified School District. She says: 

“For almost 10 years, the LAUSD has led the nation with policies that support trans students. What we’ve found through our collaboration with the LAUSD is that these policies have solved problems—not created them. Students get it. Most students don't know that one of their classmates is transgender. When students are allowed to use the facilities that they identify with, other students get it. By contrast, forcing students to use facilities that don't correspond with their gender identity is uncomfortable for all.  LAUSD has never had a problem with a transgender student's behavior in the facilities. AB1266 only strengthens policies that LAUSD has had in place since 2004.”

In The Daily Beast interview, Schubert said they needed to raise $300,000 more to add to the $250,000 they already have in order to hire professional signature gatherers. But one source said a campus activist spotted one signature-gatherer on the UCLA campus on one occasion. Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, says he hasn’t heard of anyone working on behalf of the anti-trans campaign.

“If they’re trying to gather signatures on the cheap, they will not make the ballot,” says David Fleischer, Director of the Leadership LAB at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

The Center is part of a coalition—including Equality California, Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights—that is monitoring the situation.

“We are closely monitoring the opposition’s lack of progress, and we have no evidence to suggest they were able to achieve 500,000 signatures,” as Schubert claimed in his interview with the L.A. Times, Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center said. “Regardless, we are confident that fair-minded Californians will prevail. I know this issue might be new to some folks, even in the LGB community, so let’s be clear: transgender boys are boys and transgender girls are girls, and all students should be supported and able to attend school as their authentic selves. Every student should have a fair chance at success, that’s what this law is all about.”

On Tuesday, EQCA’s John O’Connor put out a request to supporters:

We're asking you to make a promise to support all students, and decline to sign any action from opponents who are trying to stand in the way of students' success and even their ability to graduate from high school.

After you make your promise, please consider sharing this email with your family and friends, letting them know that you care about this issue, you care about students in our community, and then ask them to stand alongside you in support of all students.

Nonetheless, Schubert’s ties with NOM and with anti-LGBT Catholics have certainly helped raise money. You might remember that Jelly Belly disavowed any anti-gay attitudes in 2010 when the sad NOM-back Latino tour bus (tracked by the Courage Campaign) tried to pay a visit. Instead of a warm welcome, Jelly Belly Consumer Affairs Manager Kit McCoy said they were unaware of being a highlighted stop on NOM’s itinerary. “Jelly Belly does not allow any group to promote their special interests, pass out flyers or approach our visitors for their own interests at our public tours,” McCoy said.

Except when they do—such as the March 2012 rally for Rick Santorum. The New York Times reported:

The rally Thursday was hosted by Herman G. Rowland Sr., chairman of the board of Jelly Belly Candy Company, who calls himself “an ultra conservative” and whom Federal Election Commission records show has contributed to the campaigns of Mr. Santorum’s opponents: Newt Gingrich, Mr. Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. When asked about it, Mr. Rowland said a check for Mr. Santorum “is sitting on my desk, and he’s going to pick it up today.”

Rowland’s $5,000 contribution, however, is dwarfed by those of Sean Fieler, managing member of New York-based Equinox Partners and the Kuroto Fund. A bio at the Catholic Finance Association indicates that Fieler “is the president of the Williams Catholic Network and a board member of the International Crisis Group AB, Witherspoon Institute, Institute for American Values, National Bible Association, and the Committee for Monetary Research & Education.”

Well, he was with the Institute for American Values. Fieler left when Institute for American Values President and Prop. 8 trial star witness David Blankenhorn wrote a New York Times op-ed saying he was quitting the fight against marriage equality. “Instead of fighting gay marriage,” Mr. Blankenhorn wrote, “I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.”

The New York Times reported:  

Sean Fieler, the president of Equinox Partners, a New York hedge fund, was Mr. Blankenhorn’s largest donor, until he quit the board. Mr. Fieler, whose average annual donation “ranged from $200,000 to $250,000,” said that a pro-marriage movement could not so easily accept gay and lesbian allies, not if they were seeking marriage rights.

“The problem with gay marriage and the position David has taken,” Mr. Fieler said, “is it promotes a very harmful myth about the gay lifestyle. It suggests that gay relationships lend themselves to monogamy, stability, health and parenting in the same way heterosexual relationships do. That’s not true.”

So you can just imagine what he thinks about trans students, which is why he gave and gave and may give some more:

Oh, and then there’s this: “Admittedly I'm way out of my league here, like most people are on this topic,” George Skelton wrote in the L.A. Times. “But maybe many students today are more tolerant than in previous generations. Maybe if a student dresses like a girl, she should use the girls' bathroom.”

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  1. Roger Lund posted on 10/23/2013 10:21 AM
    Every year I take Jelly Belly's to the children of my clients in Germany. Lots and lots of them. No more. That they would be attacking children trying to find their way in life seems outrageously cruel to me. Shame on them!
  2. Karen posted on 10/23/2013 03:39 PM
    Well, I didn't buy them often, but I never will again.
  3. Jim S. posted on 10/23/2013 05:04 PM
    The answer to the problem is simple. Just have unisex toilets as they do in many parts of Europe. Americans make way too much fuss about seeing parts of the human body.
    I suppose we can thank the religious right wing nuts for all that. If we, as a population, would just loosen up a bit, I'll wager that sexual crimes would be much diminished.
    I'm a septuagenarian and when I was a kid in the 1950s gang showers after gym were required. It was no big thing. Now, many schools don't even have showers in the gymnasium....or don't even offer gym classes...leading to our epidemic of obesity. But that's a subject for a different day.
    When I joined the navy all our swimming and abandon ship practical factors were done in the big deal.
    I don't have any statistics on the matter, but I believe that youngsters who grow up in families where nudity is not an issue...or families who attend family oriented nudist colonies, are far less likely to commit sexual crimes than youngsters who grow up in sexually uptight families. Unisex toilets are the answer.
  4. Str8Grandmother posted on 10/24/2013 03:46 AM
    Sean Fieler is also funding Anti Gay Parenting Research.
    "The Witherspoon Institute" funded Regnerus, but who funds the Witherspoon Institute?
    Start reading linked document on .pdf page 32.
    You will See Sean Fieler funding the infamous 3 Economists study attacking the Michael Rosenfeld study. Rosenfeld is a Demographer out of Stanford and did the largest study using the US Census that showed that children with gay parents did not flunk grades. The problem using the US Census is that it does not have a lot of questions on it that lead to LGBT research questions but they do have a child's age and what grade they are in school.

    The 3 economists, Doug Allen and Circle of Experts expert at the Ruth Institute , an economist at Ava Maria University & one from Brigham Young did a study trying to take down the Rosenfeld study. Rosenfeld fired right back at them and said, "Allen et all, you just can't make up independent variables like that" All studies/responses published in the Journal Demography.
    Of course Sean Fieler funds the American Principals Project which is where Maggie Gallagher moved to (or I guess she was always aBoard Member just not very active) Maggie Gallagher has her home there now after she quit NOM.

    See Sean Fieler here start reading on .pdf page 32
  5. Tarah posted on 10/24/2013 04:47 AM
    I don't understand why we let public opinion rule on human rights and discrimination issues. If it's the right thing to do and it's a minority discrimination issue (a very small minority), why should the public continue to be allowed to say exactly where their hate lies?

    The black minority had this problem with integration in schools many years ago... the government stepped in. The time has come again for the fed to step up against GLBTIQ discrimination.
    1. Crissa posted on 10/24/2013 01:18 PM
      @Tarah On that point, after a high-profile case like Prop 8 being decided by the courts, what makes these people think they can roll back rights of minorities?

      Penalizing and ostracizing children. Do these people have no shame?
  6. Rex Ballard posted on 10/26/2013 09:32 AM
    The Anti-Trans people have NO CLUE what it's like to be transgender when you are young.

    I was transgender. By the time I was 5 I mostly played with girls, played hopscotch, jacks, played with baby dolls and Barbie dolls. Even as young as 2 my mother realized it was too dangerous for me to play with boys because I didn't have the instincts to fight back, to fight for toys taken, and usually ended up losing ALL of my toys and usually bleeding and bruised as well.

    In 1st grade, the teacher told me that I since I was a boy, I HAD to play with the boys, in the next 6 years I was hospitalized over 60 times. Even though doctors knew I was transsexual, in the 1960s, the most common treatment was LOBOTOMY. Even then they knew they couldn't make the mind adapt to the body (which was only male by virtue of one key male part. No, they had to DESTROY the mind.

    Transgenders have the highest suicide rates - estimates are that 35% won't live to their 30th birthday. The self-destruction can come in the form of suicide, cutting, strangulation, suffocation, or drug overdose, or may take the form of an accident or untreated disease. Many transsexuals feel like they were girls before and want to get out of their male bodies so they can be girls again.

    Many transgenders get thrown out of the house as soon as their nature is discovered, forcing them to turn to prostitution, drugs, and other criminal activities - just to survive.

    Many choose to live in "Stealth Mode", which is a bit like being a spy, under cover cop, or for many of us, more like being a Jew hiding in Nazi Europe. We try to look, dress, and act like what society expects us to be - because we know that if we get "Clocked" - discovered that we are transgender - we could face violence, torture, and death. These are things we have already endured as children - on a daily basis - for a decade or more.

    In a kindergarten or early 1st grade class, 1 in 5 boys will exhibit transgender nature. By the time they are in 3rd grade, it's more like 1 in 20. Only 1 in 10,000 will seek reassignment (Sex Change).

    I've had two cousins with similar conditions who killed themselves, one when he was 11 years old, the other when he was 14.

    That I survived to 57 is truly a miracle, as much of a miracle as the 33 years clean and sober that I have also achieved.

    Many transgendered people have been major innovators. One time, back in the early 70s, a manager at IBM fired an engineer who wanted to transition. She went on to be awarded 75 patents that IBM would have to pay her new employer for. IBM was one of the first companies to actively support transgender people.

    If you realized that the transgender boy or girl was going to create the next major innovation, helping the economy to grow by $trillions, would you want to have him killed?

    That's what the Anti-Transgender groups are REALLY Advocating.
  7. Carolyn M. posted on 10/28/2013 10:54 PM
    It's downright preposterous to think that a child would even consider taking on a transgender identity for the mere purpose of getting a few peeks of genitals in the restroom. I totally support my pre-teen transgender daughter and am certain that she is living her truth, but that doesn't mean that it is easy for her. No child "chooses" to be transgender. As my daughter said very insightfully: "It wasn't a decision; it was a realization." Transgender children and adults deserve respect and compassion--not persecution. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be true to yourself when society is screaming at you to be otherwise.
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