Editorial: Want to protect children? Don’t sign this trans-bashing petition

A smiling boy with dark hair, in a gray shirt and dark shorts, swings on a playground
Sawyer Dinh, a 7-year-old transgender boy, plays at the park next to his elementary school in the Oak Park Unified School District in Ventura County. The district offers elementary-level students lessons on gender diversity.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

You’ve got to hand it to the state attorney general’s office: It knows how to put an accurate title on a proposed ballot initiative. Consider the new anti-transgender proposal in California: “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth.”

Because, yes, transgender minors do have rights in this state under the law. They can play on the sports team or use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. And if they want their gender identity kept from their parents, they can count on schools to do so.

Forcing California teachers to notify parents that their kids are transgender would be harmful. Conservatives should stop wasting time on issues that hurt public education.

March 23, 2023


The would-be ballot proposition, whose proponent, Jonathan Zachreson, a Roseville school board member, has been cleared to start collecting signatures, would do away with all of that enlightened stuff, making California more like Florida or Tennessee.

Schools couldn’t keep a student’s gender identity confidential. They’d have to tell the parents if a student started identifying as a gender not assigned at birth, even if doing so could put the kid at risk of abuse. It would also outlaw gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers, even if the parents consent and it has been recommended by doctors as medically necessary. And it would ban trans kids from gender-appropriate sports teams and school bathrooms.

The restrictions would hold for colleges and universities, both public and private.

Our happiness is largely a product of how we are treated by the people around us.

Oct. 29, 2023

Of course, should you encounter signature gatherers eager to get your name on a petition, you can bet they won’t be saying, “This is a measure to take rights away from transgender kids who are hurting no one; interfere with parents’ rights involving their children’s medical care; and impose government restrictions on how private schools and colleges operate.” The more likely pitch will be, “We’re just trying to protect the children.”

Hardly. Despite the pearl-clutching over transgender students using the bathrooms and locker rooms of the sex with which they identify, other students are not being assaulted or harassed by transgender classmates.

Victimizing an already marginalized community is an easy way for Republicans to whip up their voters

Feb. 15, 2023


The wording of the measure reflects its own tortured logic and the hypocrisy of the so-called parental rights movement that supports laws such as this. It asserts that parents have a fundamental right to “make decisions concerning the care, education, custody, and raising of their minor children.” But then it proposes stripping parents of their rights by banning gender-affirming medical care that parents might want for their children.

It’s tempting to laugh off a measure so blatantly discriminatory that it attempts to define transgenderism out of existence by codifying traditional definitions of male and female in the state’s Education Code. But it has just enough connection to public debate to give it a veneer of legitimacy.

California’s Democratic leaders contend students have clear-cut rights to privacy, even from their parents, when it comes to gender identity. But experts say the legal realities are more nuanced.

Aug. 29, 2023

Participation on girls’ teams by transgender girls is an issue that has to be treated in a nuanced way; there are a few circumstances in which someone who was assigned male at birth might have an advantage in height and musculature over other females. But like gender itself, this isn’t a binary issue. The advantages are relatively minor (or none at all, depending on the sport), and existing rules for participation on National Collegiate Athletic Assn. teams help level out any edge that might exist for a trans athlete.

California has been protecting the rights of transgender students for years with very little in the way of complaints. There’s no problem that needs fixing, except in the eyes of intolerant people who feel threatened by the evolution of traditional gender definitions. There is no evidence that hordes of students have been traumatized by trans kids in the locker room, or of crowds of parents deeply upset that the schools never told them about their child using another name or gender on campus. Unfortunately, this proposal’s only effect would be to harass transgender adolescents who want to be who they are.

Voters have a real chance to protect children in the coming months by refusing to sign petitions for this noxious proposal.