A coalition comprising parental rights and child advocacy groups has leveled accusations against California Attorney General Rob Bonta, claiming that he is attempting to manipulate voters by presenting a ballot initiative title and summary that they argue is biased in favor of his stance on “gender affirmation.”
The ballot initiative in question proposes requirements for schools to inform parents when their child undergoes a change in gender identity, safeguard the fairness of girls’ sports by disallowing boys identifying as girls from participating, and prohibit the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery on minors. However, the state attorney general framed the ballot initiative title as “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth,” and the summary has been criticized as “overtly biased,” “completely absurd,” and “wrong” by Jonathan Zachreson, spokesperson for Protect Kids California, the coalition spearheading the initiative. Zachreson emphasized that their initiative is aimed at protecting children rather than restricting rights.
The coalition is opposed to any form of medical intervention for treating gender dysphoria, including what they term as “chemical sterilization” and “genital mutilation,” expressing concerns about potential impacts on the future reproductive health of children.
In late August, the coalition launched three separate initiatives, later consolidated into a unified proposal known as the “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.” Having received the ballot title and summary on November 29, the coalition now faces a deadline of less than 180 days to collect the required 546,651 qualified signatures for the initiative to appear on the November 5, 2024, general election ballot.
The ballot summary from the attorney general’s office outlines various provisions of the initiative, including restrictions on gender-segregated facilities, participation in sports based on assigned gender at birth, and notification requirements for parents regarding gender identity changes. The summary also estimates potential fiscal impacts on state and local governments.
Critics argue that the attorney general’s characterization of the initiative as seeking to “prohibit transgender female students (grades 7+) from participating in female sports” is misleading, and they assert that the submitted language by Protect Kids California provides clearer definitions based on biological distinctions between males and females.
Erin Friday, an attorney and western U.S. regional leader for Our Duty, a group opposing interventions on minors, commented on the predictable nature of the ballot title and summary, citing the attorney general’s previous actions against parental rights, such as a lawsuit challenging a school district’s parental notification policy for gender transitions.
Friday, along with others, expressed concern about the initiative’s terminology, emphasizing that the summary fails to define “transgender female,” potentially misleading voters. Additionally, the term “gender-affirming health care” is criticized as endorsing a model that requires affirming any child’s gender identity, irrespective of age, mental health considerations, or the perceived absurdity of the identity.
The critics also argue that the summary underestimates potential cost savings, asserting that children undergoing sex-change interventions may face long-term health issues, leading to increased healthcare costs for taxpayers.