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Korean church community launches petition drive to safeguard next generation

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The Korean-American church community is organizing an urgent signature drive aimed at protecting the next generation.

The effort is to get the Protect Kids of California Act of 2024 on the November election ballot.

This is the first time since 2008 that the Korean-American church community has organized a petition drive. Back then, the state passed Proposition 8, which aimed to block the legalization of same-sex marriage and recognize only traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

The mainstream church community led the campaign, but in the closing days leading up to the election, the Korean-American community began to take action with full-frontal campaigning. The mainstream media began to take notice, and Prop 8 was narrowly passed.

Church members are signing a petition to pass the Protect Kids of California Act of 2024 after Sunday service at Grace Ministries International on February 11. [Courtesy of Mindy Shin]

The fact that the Korean-American community has come to the forefront again this time shows how urgent the situation is. The Korea Daily took a look at what they’re signing petitions for.

In February, the Korean-American church community launched the Southern California Signature Campaign for the Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.

The first words of Rev. SoonYoung Kang (former president of Jesus Awakening Movement for America) were, “We must stop this. There is no place to back down.”

“Recently, California has passed a number of laws that may adversely affect children, such as restricting parents’ rights to their children and allowing gender-neutral restrooms in public schools,” said Rev. Kang. “We are organizing this signature drive to submit a bill to protect parents’ rights to their children as an initiative in the November election.”

Currently, California law requires at least one gender-neutral restroom in public schools starting in 2026, allows counseling on gender identity to minors over the age of 12 without parental consent, requires sexual minority training for public school staff, and allows for the creation of profiles of parents who do not accept sexual minority identities. It also penalizes school districts that ban textbooks with sexual minority content.

If the Protect Kids of California Act of 2024 is passed as a voter initiative in the November election, it would make five major changes.

TVNEXT, a Korean-American Christian group gathering signatures, proposes that public educational institutions should designate restrooms, showers, and locker rooms specifically for male and female students; prevent males from joining female-only sports teams, regardless of their transition to female; and mandate that schools inform parents about their child’s gender transition or name change.

It also seeks to ban schools or healthcare providers from encouraging minors to undergo gender transition, refer them for mental health therapy, or conduct gender transition surgeries without the consent of parents. Additionally, it includes refusing the use of local taxpayer funds for minors’ gender change procedures.

“It’s about protecting the identity of our children, protecting the privacy of girls, and restoring parental rights,” said Sarah Kim, an advocate with the organization. “It’s about Korean-American Christians stepping up to protect the next generation.”

A total of 550,000 signatures are needed to get the initiative on the ballot. However, the actual goal is 700,000 signatures, as the state government invalidates some signatures in the process of counting valid signatures. The Southern California Signature Campaign is aiming for 100,000 signatures from the Korean American church community.

To this goal, TVNEXT, Glory Church of Jesus Christ, Grace Ministries International, Junimseun Church, Thanksgiving Church, Jesus Road Church, Good Community Church of Torrance, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, Holy City Movement, The Council of Korean Churches in Orange County, The Council of Korean Churches in Southern California, and many other Korean churches and organizations are working together.

The signatures come from mainstream churches and organizations, as well as politicians and athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Committee to Protect Children, Assemblyman Bill Esailiga (R), Riley Gaines (swimmer), and Chloe Cole (former transgender) are among the many supporters of the petition.

Citing state data, Southern California Signature Campaign organizers estimate that there are currently 208,455 Korean-American registered voters in the state.

Of these, there are more than 130,000 in Los Angeles County (93,267) and Orange County (45,486), which are the main areas of Korean immigrants. The Korean immigrant community is centered around the church, so the goal of 100,000 people is achievable if the church community takes action.

The signature drive is also being organized through Korean-American chat rooms in LA and Orange County, where about 1,000 people have signed the petition. In addition, parent organizations have set up booths in front of Korean markets in LA and Orange County since February 10 to collect signatures from Korean-Americans.

“The future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren is at stake, and I hope the church community, in particular, will recognize the seriousness of this issue and get involved,” said Mindy Shin, 42, of Mama Bear, a grassroots organization for Korean-American parental rights in Orange County. “California is becoming a bleak place to raise children, and as parents, we can no longer ignore the situation.”

☞ To join the petition drive

You must be a California resident who is registered to vote. The petition can be downloaded from Sarah Kim’s TVNEXT website at www.tvnext.org/home. Instructions on how to sign, the process, and more are available in both Korean and English. TVNEXT will also review the petition to make sure it is filled out properly to prevent it from being invalid. If you are not sure how to fill out the petition or want to know the location of signature booths, you can call the Southern California Petition Drive at (310-995-3936 or 213-500-5449).

BY YEOL JANG, JUNHAN PARK    [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]