A group of far-right extremists have put forth a new slate of anti-LGBTQ+ ballot initiatives for inclusion in the 2024 election. The initiatives are part of a larger organized campaign by so-called “parental rights” groups and anti-LGBTQ+ individuals in a string of disruptions at board of education meetings, schools, LAUSD headquarters, and spreading misinformation and inciting anger against the LGBTQ+ community.
The proposed initiatives target transgender youth by seeking to ban gender affirming care, barring trans youth from participating in sports, and forcing teachers to out trans students to their parents.
The ballot initiatives aim to replicate the success of California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state when it was approved by voters in 2008 before being overturned in court two years later. As in 2008, the new proposals follow similar laws and policies enacted in other states and at the local level—including in Chino Valley, where the school board recently approved a forced outing policy that resulted in a lawsuit being brought against the school district by the state.
“The nationwide backlash to the LGBTQ+ movement has officially arrived at California’s doorstep. Far-right bigots are capitalizing upon the demonization of transgender people to propose some of the most harmful anti-LGBTQ+ ballot initiatives that our state has seen since Proposition 8. Our movement learned the hard way that we cannot let hate reach the ballot ever again. It’s imperative that our voters decline to sign, and prevent discrimination from being codified into our constitution,” Terra Russell-Slavin, Chief Impact Officer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said in response to the lawsuit.
“We need our community to come together to fight the grotesque misinformation campaign that is putting transgender people in harm’s way. We also need our media—especially our local news outlets—to stop airing the false hate speech of extremists and conspiracy theorists without fact checking or understanding our community. Unchecked hate has disastrous consequences for our people, as evidenced by Los Angeles’ recent spike in hate crimes and the uptick in violence against LGBTQ+ folks nationwide. This dangerous rhetoric has real-life consequences—especially for the clients of the Center.
“Our organization is fully prepared to fight back against this attempt to legalize the discrimination of transgender people. We’ve won this fight against bigotry before—we are prepared to win again.”
About the Ballot Initiatives:
One of the ballot initiatives, if passed, would force teachers to notify parents if a student uses a gender identity other than the one listed on their birth certificate—including requests to use different pronouns, school facilities, or by accessing gender affirming clothing and other resources.
Forced outing policies put students at risk if they are not ready to come out to their parents or do not have acceptance at home, risking abuse, isolation, and homelessness. Forcing trans students to come out to their peers, parents, and school only harms LGBTQ+ youth who already face higher levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
The ballot initiatives are part of a larger so-called “parental rights movement,” which reframes anti-trans policies as being for the safety of students and comfort of parents. Instead, they misconstrue facts about trans youth and gender affirming care to directly attack trans individuals and put students in harm’s way.
Far-right groups have targeted school boards, education, and books across the country, beginning with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill barring elementary school teachers from teaching students about sexual orientation and gender identity. The roots of some of this contention and its key players have also been linked to previous fights against COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Our organization is fully prepared to fight back against this attempt to legalize the discrimination of transgender people. We’ve won this fight against bigotry before—we are prepared to win again.”Terra Russell-Slavin, Chief Impact Officer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center
In June, LGBTQ+ youth trauma specialist and Los Angeles LGBT Center Board member Jordan Held addressed the topic of anti-trans policies and misinformation surrounding gender affirming care at the Center’s Trans Town Hall.
“It’s more important than ever that we get our facts right,” he said. “Because facts and science are what this movement was built on, and there are so many young people who are in desperate need of the facts. Because when it comes to their mental health, we’re talking about life and death.”