Nothing can make up for the pain anti-LGBT political consultant Frank Schubert caused the LGBT community in California and around the country with Prop. 8 and its spawn. But there is a quiet sense of spiritual karma with the failure of Schubert’s latest endeavor to even qualify for the November ballot. As part of the team that created the coldly inspired, soul-less idea of fearful “consequences” to some imagined anti-LGBT possibility, it must be a bitch to be bitten by a version of “what goes around, comes around.”
On Monday, Feb. 24, California’s Secretary of State reported that after a full count of the 619,387 votes submitted by Schubert and Karen England’s Privacy for All Students coalition (PFAS), there were insufficient valid signatures to qualify a referendum to repeal AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law and that went into effect in January. Despite their best public efforts, the coalition has so far been unable to find a parent or student to complain about the law in their public school environment. Indeed, AB 1266 was essentially a law clarifying an existing law in the Education Code.
The Secretary of State reported that the coalition only submitted 487,484 valid signatures; 504,760 valid signatures were needed to qualify. In the largest of California’s 58 counties—Los Angeles—PFAS submitted 130,978 signatures, of which 100,315 were valid.
“I’m certain this won’t be the last attempt by anti-LGBT extremists to roll back advances in equality for LGBT people, but I’m relieved this attempt has clearly failed,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “All kids deserve the opportunity to do well in school, including transgender kids, and we know this law works because the L.A. Unified School District reports that for eight years it has offered transgender students the same protections guaranteed by AB 1266 and there have been no registered complaints by students or adults.”
Jean’s right. Just before the final tally was released, the coalition distributed an email, headlined “Calm Before the Storm," to supporters softening the blow. Think Florida recount during the contested 2000 Presidential Election. PFAS referendum proponent Gina Gleason said:
Of the counties that have reported, the count is much higher than the projections made in the Secretary of State's estimating process. Still, it is possible that on Monday we will be slightly short of the 504,760 signatures needed.
But on Monday, the process is far from over.
The Secretary of State is not the last word on the qualifying of the referendum.
After Monday, PFAS will finally get to see the signatures that have been invalidated and will have our turn to challenge those that were thrown out.
Of course if we come up short on Monday, you can expect to hear that the issue has been decided and that the referendum failed. Don't believe it.
The process to validate signatures is a very subjective one. Signatures are thrown out for good reasons and for a lot of bad reasons. The courts have repeatedly sided with proponents of a referendum in favor of their Constitutional rights and against the heavy hand of bureaucracy that might strip those rights.
PFAS is anxious to challenge any signature that has been unfairly thrown out. But the Secretary of State is not required to tell us why she is throwing out signatures until after Monday.
Only once during the counting process did the Secretary of State let us know why certain signatures were thrown out. PFAS challenged her in court and the judge ordered that several thousand signatures be counted.
We are prepared to do that again, as many times as we need to, until every valid signature is counted and the referendum qualifies for the ballot.
As always, we are thankful to those who have contributed funds to qualify and defend the referendum. If you can help us financially as we go into this important week, please do so.
PFAS’s Karen England added in a separate fundraising email: “We are prepared to return to court if necessary. And we need your help in funding those court battles. Come Monday, we know that one side or the other will be celebrating. But we also know that the battle will not be decided on that day.
The coalition that introduced AB 1266, however, is not so sure. Here’s their joint press release:
Today, the effort to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act — California’s new law ensuring that all children have opportunities to do well in school—failed to qualify for the ballot.
The law—also known as Assembly Bill 1266—went into effect on January 1, ensuring that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.
The law is modeled after policies and practices that are already working well in several schools, and gives important guidance to educators so they can work with students and families on a case-by-case basis.
Oakland’s Redwood Heights School is among the California schools with policies in place that provide transgender young people with fair chances. Like other schools with similar policies across the state, the policy has been successful since it was established five years ago.
“We want our students to know that when they walk onto this campus, they are welcomed for who they are,” said Redwood Heights Principal Sara Stone. “Every educator I know went into the education field because they truly care about young people and making sure they have everything they need to do well in school.”
The law helps students like Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl from the Los Angeles area who transferred out of her school after administrators there refused to acknowledge her as a girl or allow her to use the girls’ restroom. Her mom, Ofelia Barba, says that the law makes it easier for her daughter to go to school and be herself.
“I love my daughter and want the same things for her that other parents want for their children,” Barba said. “I want what’s best for her, for her to be happy, and for her to be able to do well in school. No one wants to see any kid singled out and excluded from school because of who they are.”
The Support All Students campaign comprises a broad coalition of nearly 100 state and national organizations supporting the new law. The coalition includes Equality California, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU of California, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Gender Spectrum, LGBT organizations, racial justice organizations, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and others committed to ensuring that all kids have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.
Said Transgender Law Center Executive Director and Campaign Chair Masen Davis: “This law gives schools the guidelines and flexibility to create an environment where all kids have the opportunity to learn. We need to focus on creating an environment where every student is able to do well and graduate. This law is about doing what’s best for all students — that’s why it’s supported by school boards, teachers, and the PTA.”
To learn more about the School Success and Opportunity Act and the Support All Students campaign, visit SupportAllStudents.org.