Transgender rights advocates are taking aim at the Chairman of the Jelly Belly company after learning that he donated thousands of dollars to the campaign to repeal California’s landmark transgender student rights law. In September, Herman G. Rowland Sr., chairman of the board of Jelly Belly Candy Company, Inc., donated $5,000 to Privacy for All Students, a coalition fighting for a referendum effort to repeal the transgender rights legislation, reported Frontiers LA. The statute — known as School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) — was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in August, requires public schools to allow students to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities based on self-perception of gender instead of birth gender or transition status. The law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2014, is the first of its kind in the country to spell out the rights of transgender K-12 students. Last week, the leaders of four prominent LGBT rights organizations signed on to a letter initiated by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), asking Rowland to “reconsider support of the campaign by joining leaders from the transgender equality movement in a conversation about the real harms facing transgender kids.” The letter is signed by NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling; Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center; Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and John O’Connor, Executive Director of Equality California. The repeal initiative is being led by Prop. 8 strategist Frank Schubert, who is now the political director of the National Organization for Marriage. After passage of Proposition 8, Schubert led successful campaigns to block same-sex marriages in Maine and to pass a constitutional amendment similar to Proposition 8 in North Carolina. Last November, he oversaw four unsuccessful efforts to keep gay unions from being legalized in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. Schubert has until Nov. 8 to gather the signatures of 504,760 registered voters to place a referendum on the November 2014 ballot that would nullify the statute.
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