Poll: Coed Bathroom Bill Set for Defeat at Voting Booth

co-ed restroom
(LeeAnne Adams/Flicker/Creative Commons)

A new poll shows that a majority of Californians are poised to reject a law that opens public school showers, bathrooms and locker room facilities to students of the opposite sex based on "gender identity."

The poll, conducted by SmithJohnson Research for the Privacy for All Students coalition, showed that 51 percent of voters oppose the recently enacted law (AB 1266) while only 34 percent support it.

"The results of this poll are extremely encouraging and show that Californians reject the idea that the most private school facilities should be opened to students of the opposite sex based on a claim of gender identity," says Karen England, a member of the Privacy for All Students coalition that is working to qualify a referendum giving voters the final say on the recently enacted AB 1266. "Even when reading the very biased ballot language written by Attorney General Kamala Harris, a large majority of voters reject it. Most voters surveyed are strongly opposed to this new law."

AB 1266 was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and takes effect on Jan. 1 unless a referendum is qualified, giving voters the final say. The new law provides that any student shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity irrespective of the student's actual gender.

Privacy for All Students, a coalition of parents, students, educators and nonprofit groups, is waging a referendum campaign to put the law enacted by AB 1266 on the ballot, where voters could reject it. They must collect approximately 505,000 signatures of voters by early November to force a public vote on the new law.

"I have very little doubt that this new law will be rejected by voters if they have the opportunity, assuming a good campaign to explain the law," says Frank Schubert, president of Mission Public Affairs LLC and campaign manager for the Privacy for All Students coalition.

"California already prohibits discrimination and bullying against transgender students," he says. "This new law enacted by AB 1266 is a poorly drafted, one-size-fits-all solution that lacks any guidelines or safeguards to balance the interests of all students and to protect their privacy. If the coalition is able to collect sufficient signatures to force a vote, this new law is headed for voter rejection." 

SmithJohnson Research conducted a telephone survey of 600 randomly selected California voters from Aug. 26-29. Approximately 15 percent of respondents were reached on their cellphones. The sample was drawn from the registered voter pool, and every registered voter had an equal chance of being surveyed. The survey's margin of error is less than 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The question wording is based on the Title and Summary crafted by the California attorney general's office. Wording and results are as follows: 

"In an upcoming election you will likely have a chance to vote on a referendum that will approve or reject this law [AB 1266] passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Brown. Here is the question as it would appear on the ballot: Referendum to overturn nondiscrimination requirements for school programs and activities. A YES vote approves, and a NO vote rejects legislation that would permit elementary/secondary school students to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with the student's gender identity. If the election were held today would you likely vote yes to approve the law or no to reject the law?"

PROMPT FOR STRONGLY YES/NO OR SOMEWHAT YES/NO?

  • Strongly yes to approve............... 22.8% 
  • Somewhat yes to approve............ 12.6% 
  • Total Approve............................ 35.4% 
  • Somewhat no to reject................ 10.6% 
  • Strongly no to reject................... 40.8% 
  • Total Reject............................... 51.4% 
  • Undecided................................. 13.3%

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