Here’s Why Parents, Teachers and Students All Agree: We Must Defend #TransLawMA! September 7, 2017

It’s back to school season in Massachusetts. This will be the first full school year since Massachusetts’ non-discrimination law was updated to fully protect transgender people, and even though that update didn’t directly affect school policy, it has allowed transgender students to feel more secure outside of school and when they contemplate their futures.

Brandon Adams, who has frequently spoken in favor of updating the law—including in front of lawmakers last year—says now that the law is updated, he’s able to live a more ordinary teenage life, instead of always worrying about discrimination.

That includes being able to take his girlfriend on a date without worrying about what could happen if they were targeted for harassment.

“I have to say that was the best feeling in the world. I was a kid on my first date blushing uncontrollably and truly happy. The only thing I was concerned about was if I was stumbling over my words.”

“Since the bill was passed, I don’t look over my shoulder in fear. I look over my shoulder at my friends and laugh and smile. I can be an average kid finally.” —Brandon Adams

There is one thing he worries about though: What will happen if these protections aren’t upheld at the ballot box in 2018?

“Since the bill was passed, I don’t look over my shoulder in fear. I look over my shoulder at my friends and laugh and smile. I can be an average kid finally. If this was taken away I would be back at looking over my shoulder watching where I go concerned for my safety on a daily basis. No kid, no person should live in fear.”  

Jeanne Talbot, who also testified in support of updating the law last year, says protecting transgender people from discrimination simply tells transgender children like Nicole that she’s as equal, and worthy of support, as other kids.

“What I know is that my daughter is now protected and and equal under the law because of this legislation, just as you and yours have always been. She deserves the same without threat of our state looking back.”

Jeanne doesn’t want to imagine the toll that getting rid of these protections would have on Nicole’s self-esteem. Failing to uphold the law, she says, would send a message that no parent wants their child to hear.

Turning back the clock on transgender equality in Massachusetts is counter-intuitive, discredits us all as equal humans in this world, and questions the values and progressive history of our state.” —Jeanne Talbot

“There’s a saying that holds true in life and applies to our advances in equality: The only reason to look back is to see how far we’ve come. Turning back the clock on transgender equality in Massachusetts is counter-intuitive, discredits us all as equal humans in this world, and questions the values and progressive history of our state.”

Nicole puts it even more simply: She just wants what everyone wants—to be happy. And having protections in place that keep her safe from discrimination allows her to be happy, by allowing her to “live life to the fullest, everyday and everywhere.”

“Turning back now is not the right way to go. This would prevent me and so many others from living a full and happy life. So please choose to stand with the right side of history in protecting the rights of all Massachusetts residents, including me.” —Nicole Talbot

“Today in Massachusetts, transgender people have the protections that allow them to live life to the fullest but that’s not the reality in other parts of the country and the world. And it wasn’t always that way in Massachusetts,” she says. “Turning back now is not the right way to go. This would prevent me and so many others from living a full and happy life. So please choose to stand with the right side of history in protecting the rights of all Massachusetts residents, including me.”

Ethan Walker Smith, a former public affairs assistant with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) who is now getting his master’s in education at Harvard, also worries about the impact repealing these protections would have on his transgender students.

“While we do have really good guidance for students in schools, it doesn’t mitigate every issue that happens,” he says, noting that more than half of a student’s time is spent outside the school—where, before the law’s passage, they weren’t protected from discrimination.

“Now, (transgender) students can go out in public and have as many opportunities as their classmates. It’s a really powerful thing.”

If the law is not upheld when voters go to the polls in 2018, it would send a very different—and very devastating—message.

“Repealing the law sends a message that maybe we should have to accommodate discrimination at the risk of our safety—and that’s not the message we want to send to the public and definitely not the message we want to send to students.” —Ethan Walker Smith, Ed.M Candidate ’17, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Repealing the law sends a message that maybe we should have to accommodate discrimination at the risk of our safety—and that’s not the message we want to send to the public and definitely not the message we want to send to students.”

Help ensure this is not the message Massachusetts sends to transgender people next year. If you’re an educator, parent or anyone concerned about preserving non-discrimination protections for our transgender friends and neighbors, click here to sign our pledge to uphold them at the ballot box.

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