Massachusetts lawmakers are speaking out in the wake of the Trump Administration’s move to rescind federal guidance that instructs schools to ensure fair and equal treatment of transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and protect transgender.
The latest to make his disagreement with the decision known is Governor Charlie Baker, who expressed strong disappointment yesterday during a press conference.
“I’m disappointed with the decision that the administration made to roll that back. Thankfully, here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we’ve had in place standing administrative guidance on this issue for school districts in Massachusetts for the better part of four or five years and we signed, as you know, legislation last year protecting transgender individuals.”
The statewide administrative guidance that Governor Baker is referring to has protected transgender students’ access to restrooms that align with their gender identity since 2011, when Massachusetts became the first state in the country to do so. This state guidance will remain in effect, regardless of the Trump Administration’s order.
Transgender Bay Staters—including students—are also protected by #TransLawMA from discrimination in public spaces like medical facilities and restaurants.
Governor Baker was unequivocal in expressing that he felt the administration was sending the wrong message to transgender youth by rescinding the guidelines, and that he was proud Massachusetts would be sending a different message:
“I don’t support the message [of the administration] and I don’t believe it’s the right message. But I do believe that here in the Commonwealth of Mass, and this is an important message for us to share with our colleagues and education of colleagues and communities: that here in Massachusetts, kids are going to be protected and kids are going to be able to feel safe and secure in the communities they live in and the schools they go to.”
He said the Trump Administration’s actions made him think of his own three children, and what an “incredibly difficult and challenging time” youth and adolescence were for them without the threat of the kind of discrimination transgender children face.
Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom Massachusetts, the successful bipartisan campaign to update Massachusetts’ laws in 2016 to include comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, welcomed the Governor’s support for transgender students:
“Governor Baker’s message of support is welcomed by transgender people in Massachusetts who are feeling vulnerable after the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back support for equal treatment in schools. Schools in Massachusetts have successfully balanced the needs of all students for years, ensuring that transgender students can participate fully and succeed in school just like their non-transgender peers. Ensuring fairness in schools is a matter of safety and wellness for all, and knowing that Massachusetts will continue to do that is a point of local pride that matters more now than ever.”
Fourteen states, including Massachusetts, have policies in place that affirm the rights of transgender students in schools. More than 40% of public school students nationwide attend schools that support transgender students.
And the Supreme Court could extend these protections further. In March, the Court will hear oral argument in the historic transgender equality case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. Grimm is challenging a policy in his local school district that singles out transgender students for discrimination and prohibits him from using the boys’ restroom at his school. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Gavin last year. It is the first-ever case on transgender rights to go before the Supreme Court.