California transgender law could face ballot initiative

SAN DIEGO - A new effort is underway in San Diego to overturn a new state law allowing some schoolchildren the right to use any bathroom they choose.

In the past six weeks, Dran Reese has been busy collecting signatures. She heads Salt & Light Council, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting biblical values, and she believes the welfare of children is on the line.

"If this becomes the norm in public schools, we are just asking for trouble. This is a travesty of justice," said Reese.

Reese is referring to a new state law that allows transgender students to choose sports teams and bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Reese said if you open up the bathrooms, you'll invite in a host of problems that go beyond embarrassment.

"We're setting ourselves up for these children to be abused in bathrooms for pedophilia, for rape, and … to not have privacy," said Reese.

Reese has helped round up thousands of signatures.

A coalition of conservative groups hopes to gather 505,000 valid signatures by November 12 to qualify for the ballot box next November. If successful, it could stop the new state law from going into effect in January 2014.

Among those who pushed for the law is Keanan Gottlieb, who is now a college freshman.

Born a female, Gottlieb began transitioning to life as a male several years ago. He said a simple thing like choosing the right bathroom prevents discomfort and mental anguish.

"It helps with self-esteem, dignity … you're not having to worry your true self, and you're able to focus on your studies," said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb said claims that the accommodating transgender students will lead to rampant abuse is fear mongering.

"There are other school districts like Los Angeles Unified that have had similar policies that have been very successful," said Gottlieb.

In response, Reese pointed out a recent case in which a Los Angeles-area high school student complained to her school that a transgender boy harassed her and peeked at girls over the stalls.

After contacting Granada Hills Charter, the Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement, "They determined that the allegations were unfounded."

Attorney Bob Tyler, who represents the student's family, said, "We had witnesses and enough evidence to move ahead with a lawsuit. Because the transgender student was removed from the same gym period, and to maintain the privacy of my client and the transgender student, we decided not seek legal action."

Meanwhile, leaders of the petition drive say they have already collected 500,000 signatures. If they get the number they need, they will go to court to block the law from taking effect in January.


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