Late last week, North Reading’s Superintendent of Schools, Jon Bernard, and Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Patrick Daly showed their support for transgender rights by penning a letter to their legislators Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading) and Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) urging them to pass HB 1577 and SB 735.
According to the Bernard and Daly, who have already implemented policies in their school districts to ensure transgender youth are afforded the same accommodations as other students, the proposed legislation is needed to provide uniform guidance on creating safe and inclusive public spaces for all:
Our goal in education is to create a safe and supportive environment for all students. [This legislation] and the corresponding Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidance has supported our administrators and educators in their efforts to provide an environment that supports both transgender youth and also all of our students.
While opponents of full transgender non-discrimination protections have long asserted that HB 1577 and SB 735 would permit men to harass women and children in bathrooms, support from school officials serves as a direct counter-point to these unfounded claims.
Transgender students have been operating with the same rights as their peers in North Reading school districts without incident. This mirrors state and national data that shows, in the 200+ cities and 17 states with fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws, there is not a single report of public safety issues.
For Daly, updating state law is about protecting his students inside and outside of the classroom:
The Transgender Protections bill extends the protections that our students receive in the schools to the greater community. This bill would assure that our students are safe not only when they are in school but also when they leave, either on weekends or upon graduation from our district.
The school official acknowledges that there may be concerns with these policy updates, but insists: “In our experience, once any concerned individual meets a transgender youth and hears their story, most, if not all, concerns dissipate.”
One transgender youth, Brandon Adams, has been at the forefront of the campaign to update the state’s civil rights laws to include fully-inclusive public accommodations protections. You can read about his involvement here.