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Parents Sue AG Bonta for Bias Wording on Gender and Parental Rights Ballot Initiative

A trial is set to begin this week over the wording of a parental rights and child protection ballot initiative currently gathering signatures to get on this November’s ballot. The parents suing Attorney General Rob Bonta accuse him of undermining the long-standing democratic right citizens have to enact laws directly through ballot initiatives, bypassing the state legislature. Bonta, who is responsible for writing the initiative’s title and summary is not supposed to sway voters either for or against the proposal. But the parents’ attorneys assert that this is exactly what he did.

In September 2023, an initiative known as the “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024” was submitted by Protect Kids California for the November ballot. The initiative’s proponents emphasized the need to protect parental rights, fairness in women’s sports, and safeguard minors from irreversible medical interventions as their core objectives. The initiative would require public schools to notify parents if their children ask to change their gender identity at school. It requires single-sex sports team participation and locker room use to be separated by sex. And finally, it prohibits sex-change operations and chemical castrations for minors as treatments for gender dysphoria. 

Upon submission, California law mandated that the initiative be sent to Attorney General Rob Bonta for an impartial title and summary for petition purposes. However, Bonta assigned the initiative a biased and misleading title, calling it the “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative.” Additionally, its accompanying summary was marred by a negative tone and even lies.

The initiative explicitly advocates for “fair and safe opportunities for female students to compete in athletic programs,” yet this language is conspicuously absent from Bonta’s summary. Rather than reflecting the initiative’s original intent, Bonta characterizes it as “prohibit[ing] transgender female students (grades 7+) from participating in female sports.”

Further, the initiative emphasizes the legal rights of parents or legal guardians to be informed about any psychosocial or psychological treatments provided by or through the school, as well as the necessity for schools to involve parents in their child’s education. Bonta, however, inaccurately suggests that the initiative mandates schools to inform parents whenever a student under 18 seeks to be recognized as a gender different from what is recorded in school documents, “without exception for student safety.” This overlooks the initiative’s clear provisions that existing protections designed to shield children from parental abuse remain intact and are unaffected by the initiative.

Attorney General Rob Bonta’s stance against the Protect Kids California initiative was expected, given his history of legal actions that challenge parental rights in education. His lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District over its policy on parental notifications, his involvement in several lawsuits outside California pushing for policies that loosen traditional norms on sex-separated sports teams and facilities, and his support for minors’ access to sterilizing transgender hormones and surgeries are indicative of his policy agenda.

Bonta’s handling of the Protect Kids California initiative, however, represents an unprecedented overstep. As California’s chief law enforcement officer, he is legally obligated to provide an unbiased and accurate summary for all ballot initiatives. This breach of duty has prompted the Liberty Justice Center, alongside attorney Nicole Pearson with FACTS LAW TRUTH JUSTICE and Erin Friday with Our Duty, to file a lawsuit against Bonta. Representing Protect Kids California and advocate Jonathan Zachreson, a member of the Roseville City School Board, the lawsuit seeks to ensure Bonta adheres to the legal requirement for impartiality in summarizing ballot measures. The trial is expected to begin on April 19, 2024. 

Polling shows that a majority of California voters, across political affiliations, oppose schools withholding information from parents, gender transition procedures for minors, and the inclusion of biological males in female sports and spaces. Bonta is leveraging his position to deceive the electorate, prioritizing political maneuvering over his legal obligations.

“Bonta’s actions, characterized by a calculated attempt to paint the initiative in a negative light, reveal a concerning trend of political biases infiltrating the legal obligations of his office,” said CFC Vice President Greg Burt. “It is imperative that the legal system holds Bonta accountable for his actions, which not only compromise the integrity of the ballot initiative process but also erode public trust in our institutions. The time has come for a return to principles over politics, ensuring that the voices of California’s citizens are heard and respected, free from the taint of partisan manipulation.”



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