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3 Ballot Initiatives Heat Up California School Wars

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3 Ballot Initiatives Heat Up California School Wars

Parents, community members, and activists gather at a Glendale Unified School board meeting to protest district policies on LGBT content in schools in Glendale, Calif., on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdzhyan)

John Seiler

John Seiler

9/8/2023

Updated: 9/10/2023

Commentary
Mess with people’s kids and you’re asking for trouble. California’s political establishment is going to find that out soon.
A parents’ group called Protect Kids California on Aug. 28 introduced three initiatives to be on the November 2024 ballot to “protect California children, and ensure that parents are a fundamental part of their child’s growth. Protect Kids California is a  statewide grassroots effort initiated by California parents on a mission to protect children, and advocate for policies that promote children’s rights and well-being.”
As the group describes them, the three initiatives are:
  • School Transparency and Partnership Act—An initiative to require schools notify parents when their child wants to socially transition in school settings.
  • Protect Girls’ Sports and Spaces Act—An initiative to make certain girls have fair competition by ensuring girls’ athletic programs are for female athletes only.
  • Protect Children from Reproductive Harm Act—An initiative to prevent child sterilization from puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or transgender surgeries.
The initiatives almost certainly will face legal objections, including from California Attorney General Rob Bonta. On Sept. 3, he posted on X in response to the initiatives, “Across the nation and even in California, a wave of anti-LGBTQ attacks threaten to isolate, discriminate against, and harm our transgender and gender nonconforming youth. As AG, I have a simple message for all LGBTQ students: CA DOJ has your back.”
There was a link to his weekly newsletter of the same date, where he added, “Whether we’re fighting to stop forced outing policies in schools, upholding every student’s right to education, or defending inclusive curricula, I’m committed to using every tool in our toolbox to ensure transgender and gender-nonconforming youth are protected, their rights are safeguarded, and they have access to all the resources to which they are entitled.”
The newsletter included the below photo.
(California Department of Justice/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

(California Department of Justice/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Showdown at the Public School Corral

Clearly there’s a showdown on all these issues. A return salvo to Mr. Bonta’s original tweet came in a post on X from Will Swaim: “Parents have already successfully sued school districts for practicing medicine without a license and for lying to parents about their child’s gender confusion. Trial attorneys will pile in, lured by the promise of millions in contingency fees. Insurers will tighten their underwriting to account for district deception—leaving districts that followed @RobBonta’s advice exposed to devastating financial attacks. His policy will evaporate—as will Rob Bonta.”
In California, the courts now are packed with activist leftist judges. Yet medical liability insurance laws are a specialty with their own rules, albeit operating in the overall system, especially the appeals courts. But as Mr. Swaim noted, just the presence of thousands of lawsuits would lead insurers to raise rates, with the cost picked up by the school districts and, ultimately, the taxpayers.
We have a good example from this week: “A California school district that was sued over allegations that teachers and staff at Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas coached an 11-year-old girl to socially transition to a male gender identity settled with the girl and her mother for $100,000.”
Many are calling this a landmark case, saying it will make other school districts across the country think twice before transitioning kids behind their parents’ backs.
Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for education studies, told the Washington Stand, “This is a great development in the overall move to stop mistreating children based on gender identity declarations at school. When California is debating the issue of whether or not to inform parents if their child makes a declaration or is accommodated as the opposite sex, this is also timely.”
A parent speaks at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

A parent speaks at a rally attended by about 200 parental rights advocates in downtown Los Angeles to protest secret gender transitions in California public schools on Aug. 22, 2023. (Courtesy of Hasmik Bezirdshyan)

Ballot Definition

In California, ballot definitions are written by the attorney general. Mr. Bonta actually was fair on that for last year’s initiatives.
That’s a contrast with his predecessor. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in July 2020, “Backers of Proposition 22, a November referendum seeking to partially overturn California’s AB5 gig-work law and keep Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart workers in the state as independent contractors, sued Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday. They charged that he wrote an inaccurate label, title and summary of their measure ‘infected with the contagion of bias and hostility.’” Becerra is the current secretary of Health and Human Services.
The courts rejected the claim. But Prop. 22 went on to win anyway, 59 percent to 41 percent.
There have been calls over the years to shift the writing of the definitions to the nonpartisan state Fair Political Practices Commission, which monitors election campaign spending. But so far, that has gone nowhere.
Sophie Lorey, a former college soccer player for Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif., speaks out against boys identifying as transgender playing in girls’ sports and using their locker rooms, at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Lorey, a former college soccer player for Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif., speaks out against boys identifying as transgender playing in girls’ sports and using their locker rooms, at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Conclusion: More School Wars Ahead

Public schools in America long have been contentious battlegrounds. Everyone understands the future depends on what kids are taught—and on what they’re subjected to outside academics. We’re long past the innocent hijinks of the 1950s portrayed in the old “Happy Days” TV show.
What Democrats risk is destroying their coalition. Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians actually are more conservative on this and other “social issues,” despite most voting Democrat, than are whites in general. Take the 2008 vote for Proposition 8, which banned government recognition of same-sex “marriage” (until the 2015 Obergefell Supreme Court decision threw out all such bans). Right after the election, AP reported, “Exit poll data showed seven in 10 black voters and more than half of Latino voters backed the ballot initiative, while whites and Asians were split.
“Though blacks and Latinos combined make up less than one-third of California’s electorate, their opposition to same-sex marriage appeared to tip the balance. Both groups decisively backed Obama regardless of their position on the initiative.”
And Asians were the victims of the affirmative action laws at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina before that policy was overturned by the court last June, with national application. Democrats now are obsessed with restoring affirmative action, either through workarounds, or by eventually packing the court with more radical members.
In those cases, too, parents were defending their children from radical distortions of common sense; in that case, the merit-based system crucial for fairness and excellence in all our society.
Who will win? I’m betting on parents.
John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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