Today, important school associations are throwing their weight behind legislation that would update the Commonwealth’s existing civil rights law to include comprehensive non-discrimination protections for transgender Bay Staters.
In a joint statement, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), and the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) announced their support for SB 735/HB 1577.
Currently, there are state laws bans discrimination against transgender people in select domains, such as housing, employment, and schools. But the same protections do not extend to public places, like restaurants, sports stadiums and shopping malls.
School associations are banding together to send a strong message to lawmakers that these protections are not only effective, they’re necessary.
As our own campaign manager, Carly Burton, said in a statement on the school associations’ support:
This is a reminder that the implementation of the guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have been successful. We must now go one step further and protect transgender students and staff when they leave school.
Earlier this year we spoke to Jackie Ryan, a Tantasqua School Committee member and the first openly transgender elected official in the sate of Massachusetts. She acknowledges that, while she has been openly transgender for years, she was elected because of her “work ethic, passion for education and ability to make positive change” in her community.
Now she is using her position to advocate on behalf of transgender youth and adults in Massachusetts and beyond.
I felt a desire to be a better leader for the transgender community. And in Massachusetts, protections for the community are sort of half there and half not. It’s disheartening to see that patchwork of laws.
Because of this patchwork nature of Massachusetts’ non-discrimination laws, transgender students and teachers, who are protected at school and work, find themselves lacking the same protections once they leave the doors of these safe-zones. This lack of continuity in legal protections creates safety blind spots where transgender Bay Staters are more vulnerable to unfair treatment and harm.
Education leaders are speaking out, saying it’s time to close this gap. As MASS Executive Director Tom Scott said in today’s joint statement:
Superintendents across Massachusetts have been welcoming transgender students to their schools for years without issue. It is now time to extend those same protections to transgender students and their teachers beyond the classroom and the schoolyard.
The good news: There is an easy remedy to ensure transgender Bay Staters are protected consistently and comprehensively throughout the state. Lawmakers should take swift action to pass SB 735/SB 1577 this year.
To join lead education associations, who represent hundreds of districts and tens of thousands of members, in supporting comprehensive non-discrimination protections for transgender Bay Staters, click here to send a quick message to your lawmakers today.