BOSTON — Following an announcement that the Trump administration has rescinded federal guidance concerning nondiscrimination protections for transgender students under Title IX, Governor Charlie Baker today expressed support for existing nondiscrimination laws for transgender people in education and in public places generally in Massachusetts.
In response to a question by a reporter about whether he supported the administration’s decision, Governor Baker said:
“No, 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. I have three kids — they’re all in their 20s now, but they used to be little kids and teenagers, and that’s an incredibly difficult and challenging time, and I think we should all be proud of the fact that in Massachusetts we are doing the best we can to make sure that kids feel comfortable and feel safe in school and in our communities … 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.”
The guidance, which was rescinded last night, was issued by the Departments of Justice and Education last year and modeled after similar guidance issued in Massachusetts pursuant to the Commonwealth’s education nondiscrimination laws. Massachusetts’ guidance protecting transgender students in schools remains in effect, but the 2016 law ensuring nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places will appear on a ballot measure in 2018. Governor Baker has said he opposes repeal of the public accommodations law.
“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,” said 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 for transgender residents and visitors. “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, already 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. Massachusetts’ guidance remains in effect.
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the historic transgender equality case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board on March 28. The case is being brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Virginia transgender boy named Gavin Grimm. 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.
Freedom Massachusetts is the bipartisan campaign working to ensure all people are treated fairly and equally under the law.