Trans youth ballot measure fails to get enough signatures for California’s November election

A proposed ballot initiative that would have affected California’s trans kids’ access to gender-affirming health care, sports, and student privacy failed to collect enough signatures to be on the November ballot.

Organizers for the measure — which Attorney General Rob Bonta titled the Restrict the Rights of Transgender Youth initiative, but which was originally called the Protect Kids of California Act — failed to amass the requisite 546,651 signatures needed by May 28.

The act had three components: first, it would have required all school staff to inform a student’s parent if a student asked to go by a different name or pronoun that does not align with their gender identity; secondly, it would have prohibited trans girls from 7th-12th grades from playing on girls’ sports teams; and finally, it would have barred all gender-affirming health care for trans youth under the age of 18.

“While we are disappointed we didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for the ballot, we are encouraged by the amount of support from every sector of the state,” organizers from Protect Kids CA wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Protect Kids CA, an organization led by parents rights’ activists who opposed COVID-19 school shutdowns and vaccine mandates, and who now focus on laws regarding gender identity and sexuality, said they ultimately received 400,000 signatures, and raised close to $200,000 from more than 1,200 donors. They said they received a majority of their support from voters in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

The group, whose leaders include Erin Friday, an attorney and parents’ rights activist, and Roseville City School District board trustee Jonathan Zachreson, acknowledged the measure “had severe headwinds from the beginning.”

Protect Kids CA filed the paperwork for the petition last August; ballot measures in California are given Title and Summary from the Attorney General’s office, and Bonta did so in November, when he changed the title of the initiative to Restrict the Rights of Trans Youth initiative.

Protect Kids CA called the new title “false and misleading,” and filed a lawsuit protesting the change. A judge sided with the Attorney General in April, and the group plans to appeal the decision.

“If we had a little more time or a little more money, we would have easily qualified for the ballot,” proponents said.

They are also confident that, had the measure made the ballot, it would have passed.

“Our message is simple,” they said in a statement.

“Schools shouldn’t keep secrets from parents; we should protect girls’ sports and private spaces at school; and we should protect kids from unproven, life-altering and often sterilizing medical procedures. We vow to continue fighting for these principles.”