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California measure banning gender surgery for minors fails signature collection

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(The Center Square) – Activists failed to gather enough signatures for a ballot measure that would have required parental notification for children requesting gender changes at school, prevented transgender students who were born as males from competing in girls’ sports, and banned the use of puberty blockers, cross sex hormones, and genital change surgeries for minors.

Parent activist group Protect Kids California launched their initiative last summer and collected more than 400,000 signatures, approximately 150,000 short of the 546,651 minimum required to make it on the state ballot. Organizers tend to collect well in excess of the minimum confirmed signatures to account for invalid, duplicate, or incomplete petitions, suggesting the measure may have fallen 200,000-plus signatures short of verification.

“While we are disappointed we didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for the ballot, we are encouraged by the amount of support from every sector of the state,” said Protect Kids California in a news release. “We gathered more signatures for a statewide initiative than any all-volunteer effort in the history of California.”

PKC raised nearly $200,000, suggesting a cost of approximately 50 cents per gathered signature; a typical cost per required signature in California is about $16.18, according to Ballotpedia, indicating PKC’s significant grassroots support was able to result in much lower signature gathering costs.

Before California Attorney General Rob Bonta titled the measure “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative,” the measure polled well, but after the wording, voters indicated strong opposition.

PKC sued Bonta to have his title thrown out, but a court denied its motion. Despite not collecting enough signatures, PKC is still appealing the lower court’s decision to deny their motion.

When PKC first announced its ballot measure, it cited polling from Rasmussen and Gallup finding the majority of voters likely would support each of the measure’s three proposed rules.

School districts across California have adopted parental notification policies for when children request to officially change their pronouns, go by a different name, or use facilities or school programs for children of the opposite gender. Bonta has supported lawsuits against these school districts, and the California Senate just passed a bill that would ban school districts from having such policies.

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