Sunday Commentary: As 2023 Ends, the Battle for Trans Rights in Davis Continues

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Once upon a time as I like to tell it, I over-estimated the progressiveness of the Davis community.  It was 2006, and the issue was police oversight.  When my wife, then the head of the Human Relations Commission, pushed for police oversight, I figured that was an easy task in a community like Davis.

I was wrong.  In fact, I was so wrong that I vowed not to make the same mistake again.  That was nearly 18 years ago.  A lot has happened in this community since then, and in many ways this community has become a lot more progressive than it was back in 2006—but in a lot of ways it has not.

Still, I was not certain how things were going to go this year as a small group of people began vocally pushing back on progressive transgender policies.

During my time doing this we have seen a lot of changes.  In 2008, for instance, California narrowly approved Prop. 8 which banned same sex marriage.  Yolo County—thanks largely to Davis—voted against Prop. 8 by 20 points and Davis voted against it by a greater than 80-20 margin.

By the time the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriages, a future Prop. 8 in California was unthinkable.  National polls show a strong 75-25 support for same sex marriage.

Flash forward to 2023, and the line has moved.  The right, resurgent after ending Roe v. Wade on abortion at the Supreme Court level, saw transgender as the next cultural war wedge issue.

The issue was starting to flash in Davis at the school board level in late 2022 and has since exploded in this community—as it has across the country.

Unlike my experience on the police issue in 2006, however, the Davis community is very progressive on this issue.  I have heard some on the right suggest that there is a silent majority in support of the views expressed by Moms for Liberty.

I don’t see it.  I see the opposite.

I look at several indicators.

First, in terms of the public discourse, the number of people who come out on one side tend to be relatively small and many are not even current parents of students.

Meanwhile, there is a large group that counter-protests.

I know… silent majority.  It’s kind of the dog that doesn’t bite scenario.  Somehow silence becomes support.

I keep asking the school district—is there any traction here?  The response I get is that, in communications, it’s basically the same small group of people and most aren’t currently parents of school-age children.

Meanwhile, when the bomb threats were ringing out, pretty much every elected official in the county and everyone representing Davis signed onto “Davis is for everyone.”  That’s a pretty strong indication right there that the people who feel safe are those on the left—not the right.

Based on this, I thought the best strategy was to deescalate.  Ramp down the pressure.  Stop responding to Moms for Liberty and the social media activity.

I suggested as much in September.

People were like, if you think the best idea is to ignore it, why do you keep reporting on stuff?  Well, I’m not in the same position as an activist.  My job is to cover what’s happening.  Lawsuits.  Restraining orders.  Bomb threats.

Moreover, Davis is not an island and part of what I view as my job locally is to cover issues in Davis that are happening nationwide.  The housing crisis is a good example.  Watching statewide legislation but also litigation by the Attorney General and HCD is kind of important to understand what might happen here.

With respect to this issue, we have seen attempts at book bans, legislation banning gender affirming care for minors, and “don’t say gay” or “don’t say LGBTQ.”

But there is more than just that.

While the bomb threats have stopped, social media harassment has continued.  We have seen district employees and teachers targeted.  We have seen school board members targeted.  We have seen student groups targeted.

The people who are being targeted are the very kinds of vulnerable populations that the Vanguard was founded to defend.

So, at the end of the day, while I thought in September that the best strategy was ignore, I have come to realize that I was in fact—WRONG.

I don’t think Moms for Liberty has made any progress.  In fact, I would argue the opposite.  I think the community is now more strongly on the side of the LGBTQ community than they were in January.

At the same time, I know a lot of people feel beat down by the year and the constant pounding they have taken.

I know I do.  But I also know if I feel that in a relatively safe space and position, that vulnerable students and others in the community must feel manifolds worse than I do and they need someone to have their back.

In the end, I think that this push is actually going to backfire.  Yes, you can look at polls right now nationally on certain aspects of this debate, but polls are not predictive, they are temperature readings at the time.  We saw how quickly the population moved on marriage equality.

The nation went from California passing Prop. 8 in 2008 to Obergefell in 2015, less than a decade later, after which the issue has largely vanished.

Just this week, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine vetoed a measure banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Signing the bill would “be saying that the state, the government” knows what’s better for youth than their parents, Gov. Mike DeWine said

But to me, that’s an interesting development because while Ohio has moved toward becoming a red state, it is not a safe red state at this point.  This kind of legislation has passed in red states, but not in swing states and not in blue states.

If that holds, this may not be the issue that some thought it would be a year ago.

At some point locally, Moms for Liberty will recognize that they have not only lost this issue, but they have pushed the community much further to the left than they realize.  Hopefully that realization will come in time for the vulnerable students to find some solace.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Walter Shwe

    The Moms for Liberty is another sad radical extremist right wing joke and a bunch of proven liars. Who goes around taking and posting photos of Davis classrooms that happen to have pride flags hanging from them? People that are in denial of their own family histories and of the real truth, that’s who.

  2. Sharla Cheney

    Beth and her associates have adopted a far far right religious platform. They want the criminalization of being LBGTQ in every way.  The legislation they oppose is mind-boggling.  They oppose providing free menstrual products in school bathrooms, oppose the inclusion of treatment for infertility in medical insurance coverage, they oppose the strict confidentiality of medical records of people coming to California for medical care to protect them from prosecution in their home states, they oppose a constitutional amendment to remove the statement that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. They want to remove or restrict student access to books in the library and curriculum that have any mention of sex or gender.  They want students to be taught that there are only two genders – male sexually attracted to female and female sexually attracted to male. Every other gender is caused by mental illness or the result of social contagion.  This campaign is shrouded in “protecting the children and parents rights.”  Is all this or any part of this what we want for the Davis community?

    1. Don Shor

      Somehow, I sense that the tactic of attacking community members, teachers, and counselors by name, and allowing your friends to make highly insulting and nearly libelous comments about them, isn’t really working to further the community discussion that is ostensibly desired.

      The social media algorithm is dwindling, and the replies are just from the echo chamber at this point, except for a few brave souls who try to correct the more blatant misinformation.

      When your main supporters are from the Yolo County Taxpayers, local Republicans, religious extremists, and outsiders, your strategy has failed. When you’ve chosen a law firm with a vicious anti-gay history, you might expect some blowback. Any local candidate for school board or council who aligns with this crowd will get buried in a landslide.

      School officials should do the bare minimum to meet the information demands. The school board and administrators should simply ignore the public comments but take legal action if necessary to protect students and district staff. The library should base their access policies on public safety. No books should be removed from public or school libraries, no teachers should change their classroom décor nor their lesson plans, no counselors should fail to meet with kids who need them.

      There is no reason to engage with people who don’t act honestly, who try to conceal their real motives and goals, and who vilify community members to try to rile up the populace.

      You don’t negotiate with bullies, nor do you pretend they are reasonable people.

    2. Kendra Smith

      And don’t forget they want to remove social emotional learning from the curriculum, also, which was initially puzzling to me, but it makes sense now in the context of their larger project.

      Social emotional learning encourages compassion, empathy, kindness, and tolerance. They don’t want the public at large to have these sentiments in relation to the humans they are against. They don’t want children to learn these traits because it’s dangerous–long term–to their ultimate goal of removing LGBTQ+ humans from public view.

      And I agree with Don’s sentiment below. You can’t negotiate with bullies. You can’t reason with bullies. We’ve seen it here. They just ignore evidence from experts and roll on with their lying and misinformation and propaganda.

      The only thing that I’ve ever known to shut down a bully when they really get started is a sudden show of overwhelming force. Ignoring them works up to a point, until it doesn’t. I think Don’s ideas to do the bare minimum in terms of compliance is a good one.

      Neo-fascists and authoritarians of the M4L stripe are just bullies writ large, and people need to never forget that the last time they really got up and running it took a World War to shut them down.


      1. Keith Olsen

        Since there’s no edit feature I’m going to repost this and clean it up:

        Who are the real bullies on this issue?  From reading some of the posts on this issue over the last few months on the Vanguard and on Beth’s FB page one could easily argue that there are many bullies coming from the left.

        Neo-fascists and authoritarians of the M4L stripe are just bullies writ large, and people need to never forget that the last time they really got up and running it took a World War to shut them down.

        Talk about over the top rhetoric.

        1. Walter Shwe

          Since there’s no edit feature I’m going to repost this and clean it up:

          I see Keith is again whining about the lack of an edit feature. How will Keith survive?

          Are you talking about this over the top rhetoric and defamation Keith from M4L supporters/members? This is just a small sample. This cowardly person evidently deletes his remarks not long after they appear.

          Beth Young Bourne wow, HM is a pedophile. And his story of importance greatly exaggerated and embellished.

          Well, he’s a perv

          Here is Beth boasting that she is in communication with the highly dangerous Libs of TikTok which just got banned again from Facebook.

          LibsofTikTok used my Public Records Request (PRA) response for this article about Davis High.

  3. beth

    David, do you think the trans-identified girls at Davis High School having top-surgery (a cosmetic, bilateral mastectomy) are perhaps making a permanent decision at too young of an age?


    Do you think parents can consent to having their kids on puberty blockers and cross sex hormones knowing it will leave them sterilized and without sexual function?


    Do you think parents should be able to “opt-out” their kids from gender indoctrination in the public schools?


    Would you support DJUSD holding a special study session on gender identity policies**, curriculum, and activities at the schools, k-12?


    **This includes DJUSD policies that allow teachers to socially transition kids at school with new names, preferred pronouns, and gender identity for bathrooms and sports?

      1. Don Shor

        It’s probably better not to speculate about people are or are not doing

        It’s also nobody else’s business. Health decisions, including mental health, are private. And in California minors do have some medical privacy rights.

        One of the worst aspects of all this brouhaha is that it might impede the access to counseling for teenagers.

        1. Keith Olsen

          It’s also nobody else’s business. 

          What do you mean it’s nobody else’s business?

          Beth is asking questions about policies in public schools and that should be everyone’s business.

          1. Don Shor

            California state law:
            Family Code § 6924
            “A minor who is 12 years of age or older may consent to mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis or to residential shelter services, if both of the following requirements are satisfied:
            (1) The minor, in the opinion of the attending professional person, is mature enough to participate intelligently in the outpatient services or residential shelter services. AND
            (2) The minor (A) would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to self or to others without the mental health treatment or counseling or residential shelter services,
            (B) is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse.” Fam. Code § 6924. Health & Safety Code § 124260
            “[A] minor who is 12 years of age or older may consent to [outpatient] mental health treatment or counseling services if, in the opinion of the attending professional person, the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in the mental health treatment or counseling services.” Health & Saf. Code § 124260.
            If services are being provided by licensed interns or trainees, there may be obligations to consult with a supervisor regarding provision of minor consent care. See Health & Saf. Code § 124260

            *Treatment and counseling means provision of treatment and counseling on an outpatient basis by
            • A “professional person” as defined in Health and Safety Code 124260(a), for services provided under that statute. Please see the statute for more information
            • Certain agencies or a “professional person” as defined in Family Code 6924(a)(1), for services under that statute. Please see the statute for more information.

            CA Fam Code Section 6924

            As used in this section:
            “Mental health treatment or counseling services” means the provision of mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis by any of the following:
            A governmental agency.
            A person or agency having a contract with a governmental agency to provide the services.

            An agency that receives funding from community united funds.
            A runaway house or crisis resolution center.
            A professional person, as defined in paragraph (2).
            “Professional person” means any of the following:
            A person designated as a mental health professional in Sections 622 to 626, inclusive, of Article 8 of Subchapter 3 of Chapter 1 of Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations.
            A marriage and family therapist as defined in Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 4980) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.

            Parent Access/Confidentiality Obligation
            If the minor consents or could have consented to care, the provider only may share the minor’s health information with parents or guardian with the signed authorization of the minor.
            Health & Saf. Code §§ 123110(a), 123115(a); Civ. Code §§ 56.10(b)(7), 56.11(c); 45 C.F.R §§ 164.502(g)(3); 164.508(a).
            Discretion to Inform/Involve Parents?
            The health care provider is required to involve a parent or guardian in the minor’s outpatient treatment unless the health care provider decides that such involvement is inappropriate. This decision and any attempts to contact parents must be documented in the minor’s record. When services are being provided under Health and Safety Code § 124260, providers must consult with the minor before making the determination concerning parental involvement. Involving parents in treatment will necessitate sharing certain confidential information; however, having them participate does not mean parents have a right to access confidential records. Providers should attempt to honor the minor’s right to confidentiality to the extent possible while still involving parents in treatment. Fam. Code § 6924; 45 C.F.R. § 164.502(g)(3); Health & Saf. Code § 124260(c).


        2. Walter Shwe

          This is a threatening comment directed to Davis children from a Moms for Liberty radical extremist. What do you think about this Keith? This is violent conservative rhetoric.

          Luke 17:2 sums it up perfectly !

          It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

  4. beth

    Don and David – I think it’s fascinating how much the two of you believe in gender identity and this new science where men can become trans women, and children can be born in the wrong bodies.


    One question for you both. Would you support DJUSD hosting a special study session on gender identity in the Davis public schools? This study session would be similar to what the did around the music/orchestra controversy and the AIMs/GATE controversy.


    DJUSD administrators could present the school district’s policies, activates, and curriculum that involve gender identity. This includes explaining the criteria teachers use when deciding to socially-transition a child at school (new names, pronouns, gender) without notifying the parents when they believe it could be “unsafe” for the child.


    Parents and concerned community members could ask questions and we could have an open discussion.


    I think this should take place for voters are asked to vote on Measure N.


    Lastly, David, with your wife being the newest DJUSD school board trustee, do you think she could propose this gender identity study session to her fellow board members?





    1. Walter Shwe

      Don and David – I think it’s fascinating how much the two of you believe in gender identity and this new science where men can become trans women, and children can be born in the wrong bodies.

      It’s actual science Beth, but your own experiences have blinded you to that widely recognized fact.

  5. Val Syverson

    Look, lady, nobody but you thinks there’s a “controversy” here, and you don’t have any kids in DJUSD schools anyway, so I really don’t know why you think anyone would care to spend any effort on your pet project.

  6. Keith Olsen

    Look, lady, 

    Val, are you labelling here?  I mean if biological m… is off limits with trans-activists then maybe this is out of line?  Just saying…

    you don’t have any kids in DJUSD schools anyway

    I’m pretty sure Beth does.

    I really don’t know why you think anyone would care to spend any effort on your pet project

    There are many people helping Beth with the pet project.


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