Parent Group to Sue California Official Over Alleged Misleading Ballot Title, Summary

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Parent Group to Sue California Official Over Alleged Misleading Ballot Title, Summary

Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona) speaks at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

1/8/2024

Updated: 1/9/2024

A coalition of parental rights and child advocacy groups last week announced they intend to sue California Attorney General Rob Bonta for allegedly attempting to mislead voters over a ballot initiative title and summary they say he skewed in favor of his political stance on “gender affirming health care.”
The coalition launched three separate initiatives in late August which have since been consolidated into the “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.”
The new initiative would require schools to notify parents regarding children’s mental health concerns identified in school settings, including gender identification issues; protect girls’ competitive sports and school spaces for biological girls only; and prohibit puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, mastectomies and genital surgeries for minors.
However, Mr. Bonta wrote the ballot initiative title as “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth,” with the summary claiming the initiative, in part, “prohibits gender-affirming health care for transgender patients under 18, even if parents consent or treatment is medically recommended.”
Jonathan Zachreson, a spokesman for Protect Kids California, the coalition of parental rights groups that launched the initiative, told The Epoch Times last month the ballot title and summary is “absurd” and “overtly biased.”
California Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona) said at a Protect Kids California press conference on the steps of the state legislature in Sacramento on Jan. 3, that he supports the initiative.
“As a former prosecutor, I can tell you nothing good ever comes out of keeping secrets from parents. The best is to always tell the truth and to have parents be involved in their lives,” he said. “Nobody loves their children more than their parents, and if children are struggling with their identity, or they’re struggling with anything at school, they need their parents. To isolate them from their parents is to do harm.”
Mr. Essayli slammed state lawmakers last year for refusing to hear Assembly Bill 1314, his proposed legislation calling for a statewide parental notification policy that would have required school staff to inform parents within three days should their child change his or her gender identity.
“Unfortunately, this legislature is so arrogant—they’re so pompous—they refuse to even give my bill a hearing. They didn’t even want to take a vote. That’s how little regard they have for the people of this state. They don’t even want to hear from their own representatives,” he said, pointing out that he represents about half a million people in his district.
Assembly Education Committee Chairman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) issued a statement in April saying the committee would not hear the proposed legislation, “not only because the bill is proposing bad policy, but also because a hearing would potentially provide a forum for increasingly hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ youth.”
Since then, at least seven school districts in California have enacted local parental notification policies, prompting Mr. Bonta to sue Chino Valley Unified School District, the first one to pass such a policy.
“They told us to sit down and be quiet. Well, guess what? We’re not going to sit down, we’re going to stand up,” Mr. Essayli said. “Let’s go win this at the ballot box!”
Erin Friday (C), an attorney who is on the executive committee for Protect Kids California, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Erin Friday (C), an attorney who is on the executive committee for Protect Kids California, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Erin Friday, an attorney and western U.S. regional co-leader for Our Duty, a child advocacy group opposed to transgender ideology and gender-related medical interventions on children and young adults, said a successful ballot measure would “safeguard families,” and “return California to reality.”
Ms. Friday, who is also on the executive committee for Protect Kids California, said at the press conference the group plans to sue Mr. Bonta over the allegedly skewed ballot titles and summary.
A self-described “lifelong Democrat,” Ms. Friday said the ballot initiative is a non-partisan effort that would prohibit minors from obtaining puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and irreversible surgeries and “masquerade as the opposite sex.”
“No person can change sex,” she said. “This initiative will prevent children from becoming lifelong medical patients and cash cows for gender clinics and hospitals. It will prevent sterilization, harm to their sexual function, and safeguard them from a myriad of serious physical ailments from synthetic hormones.”
Mr. Bonta released the ballot title and summary for the Protect Kids California initiative in late November.
Under the election code, the state attorney general is required to provide “a true and impartial statement of the purpose of a measure in such language that the ballot title and summary shall neither be an argument or likely to create prejudice for or against the proposed measure,” Ms. Friday said.
But, to the contrary, “Mr. Bonta’s title and summary is prejudicial, partial and inaccurate,” she said. “California voters have a right to accurate titles and summaries for ballot measures—not biased, inaccurate language designed to confuse and misinform the public.”
Ms. Friday also accused both Mr. Bonta and California Gov. Gavin Newsom of interfering with parental notification policies passed by local school boards.
Referring to the statewide controversy over secret gender transition policies at schools, Ms. Friday said the Newsom administration is backing state-issued guidelines that encourage school staff “to lie to parents when their child is suffering from gender confusion,” and refuses to acknowledge “every systematic review of the evidence” showing the vast majority of children who aren’t transitioned eventually grow out of their gender dysphoria.
Ms. Friday also disputed the narrative among transgender activists that medical interventions to block natural puberty and so called “gender-affirming care” prevent suicides.
Richard Anumene (L), who regrets his gender transition surgery, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Richard Anumene (L), who regrets his gender transition surgery, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Detransitioners Speak Out

Richard Anumene, a heterosexual man from San Francisco who once identified as a “trans woman,” is suing Kaiser Permanente for surgically removing his genitals, he told the crowd at the press conference.
Mr. Anumene, who suffers from schizophrenia and other mental health issues, said the medical community ignored these conditions and encouraged him to have his genitals removed.
“I was basically love-bombed into transition,” he said.
By the time he realized he wasn’t a trans woman but rather a “severely abused heterosexual man” with mental health problems, it was too late, he said.
“Within months of the irreversible vaginoplasty, deep regret set in and I detransitioned,” he said. “I quit cross-sex hormones and dilating my artificial vagina.”
The result was an “unprecedented mental breakdown and substance use as well as medical complications including bleeding, urinary incontinence, and urinary tract infections. No medical provider can provide me with guidance on what to do now,” he said. “I am a perpetual medical patient as well as an experiment for the rest of my life.”
He urged Californians and their lawmakers to stand up against the “monstrous” culture of transgenderism.
“I cannot get back the time I lost on a fool’s errand believing I could be a woman,” he said. “No one can ever change sex. Stop ignoring us. Experimentation on humans is an abomination.”
Chloe Cole, a detransitioner from California who underwent a double mastectomy at 15 is also suing Kaiser Permanente.
Claiming she still has open wounds on her chest from her surgery, Cole said at the event her life has been “turned into a nightmare” because of the procedures.
“I’ve been to so many doctors who have looked at me and shrugged, telling me that they have no idea how to help me without continuing the experimentation. I feel like a Frankenstein’s monster,” she said. “My body is never going to be the same because I was a victim of the biggest medical scandal of the century.”
Chloe Cole, who regrets her gender transition procedures, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Chloe Cole, who regrets her gender transition procedures, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Ms. Cole, who transitioned at 13, took testosterone, and detransitioned at 17, said she also suffers from vaginal and urinary tract atrophy.
“This state is far too beautiful to be stained with the blood of innocent children,” she said. “And, where California goes, the rest of the United States of America and eventually the entire world goes. This is why we as Californians need to set the standard for how to treat children with gender dysphoria.”
Laura Becker, a detransitioner from Wisconsin, agreed, saying at the press conference California is a key state because it often “sets the precedent” for the legislative agenda in the rest of the country.
However, she said, California legislators “can’t be trusted” because they’re pushing gender-affirming care without enough safeguards for minors.
“I’m the victim of medical malpractice,” she said, echoing Ms. Cole’s assertion that the gender transitioning of children is “the largest medical scandal of our time.”
Diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 11, and later with polycystic ovary syndrome at 12, she was in and out of the medical system and diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. She ultimately developed complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffered from suicide ideation.
After therapy, which she said failed to deal with her mental issues, she identified as a transgender man.
“I don’t have my breasts anymore. What I’m wearing now is a padded bra. I have nothing there. I had my breasts surgically removed when I was 20 years old,” she said. “I was on testosterone when I was 19 years old, and I will never be able to get back those years that I spent in a delusional state having magical thinking ... that I could live as the opposite sex, and then maybe I would feel lovable as a human being.”
After the surgery, Ms. Becker said she only felt “more unlovable,” and deep regret.
“I felt like a degenerate, I felt alienated, I felt disgusting and mutilated, and then I had to do the work of accepting what I had done to myself,” she said.
The transgender community celebrated her as transgender man, but rejected her when she detransitioned, she said.
“Suddenly, there’s no sympathy for me, or my fellow detransition peers from the loving trans community of the left who claim to care about mental health, who claim to care about healthy loving relationships and boundaries,” she said. “I have a boundary for you guys: How about some safeguarding in medicine that doesn’t allow children to be sterilized because they’re confused about going through adolescence?”
“How about the boundary of telling a college age kid whose brain is not fully formed, that maybe someday they’ll want to have kids, maybe they should wait a little while to have some life experience before they get their genitals surgically altered?” she added.
Ms. Becker said transgender ideology is being pushed in schools, human resources departments and in medicine in every state—not just California.
While transgender activists claim the detransition movement threatens people’s ability to do what they want with their own bodies, and “that it’s none of our business,” she said. “I definitely think it’s our business what we do as a nation to provide proper health care based in actual science, based on data and evidence-based care.”
She said opponents will say detransitioners made foolish choices on a whim and that it’s their own fault the surgery just didn’t work out for them.
“Tell that to an 11-year-old or a 15-year-old child ... who had been experiencing parental abuse from a young age, who’s autistic, who’s suicidal,” she said.
Detransitioners are proof it’s possible to manage gender dysphoric symptoms without relying on medical interventions and cosmetic surgeries, she said.
And, gender ideology has emerged as a “kind of coping mechanism” people are using to deal with other issues such as abuse, drug addictions, and mental health problems, she said.
“Why are we treating mental health issues with cosmetic surgery?” she asked. “I’m here to say that’s not appropriate. It’s more than not appropriate. It’s evil.”
Tara Thornton, a co-founder of Freedom Angels, a parental rights group, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Tara Thornton, a co-founder of Freedom Angels, a parental rights group, speaks at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2024. (Courtesy of Jay Reed, Protect Kids California)

Freedom Angels

Tara Thornton, a co-founder of Freedom Angels, another parental rights group, urged parental rights and child advocacy groups during the press conference to keep fighting and encouraged them to continue exercising their right to free speech on social media “because censorship and the propaganda machine causes the fake divide.”
Government has failed Californians, but the people are aligned on the issues that affect parents, children, families, such as education, inflation and the economy, Ms. Thornton said.
“The people—the real Californians—are not being represented by the extremists in both elected and appointed leadership, but California is not a lost cause,” she said. “There’s something better and stronger. There’s each of us, and together [with] locked arms, we break the false partisan divide.”

Attorney General’s Office Response

Mr. Bonta’s communication staff stated via email last month in response to a request for comment that the attorney general’s office is responsible for issuing official titles and summaries for ballot initiatives “describing the chief purpose and points of every proposed initiative submitted in compliance with procedural requirements” but did not respond to questions about the alleged bias and ambiguity in the title and the the initiative’s summary.
“We take this responsibility seriously,” the attorney general’s press office stated. “However, we cannot comment on any particular initiative.”
Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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