California initiative would bar transgender people from bathrooms

Jennicet Gutierrez, left, and Johanna Saavedra take part in the March 20 "Spring into Love" rally in Los Angeles to protest violence against transgender people.

Jennicet Gutierrez, left, and Johanna Saavedra take part in the March 20 “Spring into Love” rally in Los Angeles to protest violence against transgender people.

(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A group that tried unsuccessfully to repeal California’s transgender students rights act now has proposed a ballot measure to restrict the restrooms that transgender people can use.

Called the Personal Privacy Protection Act, it would require people to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex” in government-owned buildings, including public schools and universities.

It would not apply to single-occupancy restrooms or to family restrooms.

The proposal would allow people who felt their privacy had been violated by a transgender person who entered the restroom unlawfully to sue that individual or the government entity for a minimum of $4,000. It also would allow people who chose not to enter a bathroom or locker room facility because a transgender person was inside to file suit.


The proposal was submitted to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ office on Friday by Privacy for All, a coalition that attempted to repeal the state law requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and play on sports teams of the gender with which they identify.

The Personal Privacy Protection Act would require more than 365,000 signatures to be placed on the November 2016 ballot, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“We have great compassion for any person that is uncomfortable in traditional, sex-separated facilities,” said Gina Gleason, a proponent of the initiative, in a Privacy for All statement circulated by Christian Newswire. “But we also want to protect the privacy that most of us expect when we are in public restrooms, showers and dressing areas.”

Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, called the proposed initiative “unconstitutional and unenforceable,” saying that it “would dangerously single out Californians who don’t meet people’s stereotypes of what it’s like to be male or what it looks like to be female, putting everyone at greater risk of harassment and opening the state up to costly lawsuits.”

The proposed initiative also seeks to protect private businesses that require people to use restrooms in accordance with their birth gender.

For a fee of $200, California citizens can submit ballot proposals to the attorney general’s office, which is required by law to give them a ballot-worthy name, summarize their effects and set the clock running for gathering signatures.


State officials are required to put even the most extreme ideas on the ballot if enough signatures are collected. The initiative process has come under fire in recent weeks after a Huntington Beach attorney filed a proposal that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians.

Harris last month asked for a court order allowing her to halt that measure -- an action that is pending before the Sacramento County Superior Court.

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