New California Initiative Bans Transgendered Bathroom Switching

A newly-created ballot initiative in California would require all people in government buildings to only use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex, and allow lawsuits against those who refuse to comply.

By Published on April 21, 2015

The new “Personal Privacy Protection Act” is the brainchild of the group Privacy For All, a California organization opposed to recent laws in the state that protect the right of transgender and transsexual individuals to use whatever bathrooms they want. For example, a 2013 law passed by the state legislature guarantees schoolchildren the right to use bathrooms and lockers rooms based on what gender they identify with, even if it doesn’t match their biological sex.

The new initiative, if approved by California voters, would require all people in the state to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings.” Facilities, in this case, refers to bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and showers. Like a recently-proposed law in Kentucky that failed to pass, the law would be enforced by exposing those who enter the “wrong” bathroom to lawsuits from those who feel their privacy was violated. Under the proposed law the minimum damages in such a suit would be $4,000, and could go higher.

The initiative doesn’t bind the bathroom policies of private entities, but it does provide legal protection to those that require patrons to use bathrooms aligned with their biological sex.

In order to get on the ballot in 2016, advocates will have to collect about 366,000 signatures. That’s a high burden, but one advocates could reach. During the 2014 cycle, an initiated measure trying to repeal California’s law regarding school bathrooms managed to collect 487,000 signatures, just short of the signature requirement for that election cycle (signature requirements in California are pegged to the turnout of gubernatorial elections, and turnout was down in 2014, leading to a lowered threshold).


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