Bakersfield transgender teen weighs in on law, repeal effort

Bakersfield transgender teen weighs in on law, repeal effort

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A petition to overturn a California law that gives transgender students the right to use the public school restroom or locker room of their choice will not appear on the November ballot.
 
The debate over which restrooms transgender students should be allowed to use isn't over, but the valid number of signatures to get the bill added to November’s ballot did fall short - a victory that directly impacts those who feel they identify as the opposite sex from what they were born.
   
Dean Welliver, of Bakersfield, identifies himself as a transgender 17-year-old male. Welliver said he felt he had to take online classes his senior year, because he felt his school lacked guidelines necessary to ensure he could attend school as himself.

"This law is just about making sure transgender students can go to school," Welliver said Tuesday. "I really wanted to be able to participate in school life. You know, clubs, be on campus with my friends, you know, dances, all the stuff that a school, a traditional public school, has to offer. All the opportunities. But it was just too painful for me."
 
At the start of this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1266, which protects the rights of California transgender public school students. Under the law, students in grades K-12 are allowed to use facilities based on their gender identity.
 
The bill caused much debate, and a referendum against it began to circulate.
 
Monday, the Secretary of State's office said more than 619,000 signatures in support of the measure were turned in, but only about 487,000 were found to be valid.
 
The petition fell short 17,000 valid signatures. The Pacific Justice Institute plans to recount and challenge the decision.
        
"We have 21 days to review all the signatures that they claim are invalid to see if in fact if they were,” said Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus.

“If we do in fact find that there's 17,000 that were thrown out that shouldn't have been, then we will petition for those to be added back on to the tally. And if they're not, then we'll have no choice but to seek judicial relief," said Dacus.

Without the valid signatures, the bill will stay as law, and won't appear on the November ballot. A hot topic for parents around Kern County.
 
"I was disappointed we didn't get the chance to vote on it,” said grandparent Marjorie Trens.

"I think that they should be taking care of the majority rather than catering to the minority, a very small minority I think,” said parent Richard Watkins.
 
Welliver said the issue isn't about the minority versus the majority, but about the proper education of all students, an opportunity he feels he missed.
 
"I lived every day of my life as a boy, and then to have to go to school and use the girl's bathroom and the girl's facilities, that's just too painful," Welliver said. "This is just making sure that all students can go to school and have the same opportunities to succeed and participate."