Massachusetts Public Schools Must Accommodate Transgender Students

| by Michael Allen
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Last summer, a change in Massachusetts state law added nondiscrimination in schools based on gender identity (video below).

According to CBS Boston, public schools in Massachusetts are facing new guidelines regarding students and gender identity.  Schools are now required to accept the gender that a student chooses as his or her own, which includes bathroom and locker room access.

“We want to provide equal access to every student,” Medford, Massachusetts, Superintendent Roy Belson told CBS Boston. “We want to make sure that every student is comfortable, and right now, after our preliminary discussions, we believe we can do that.”

Medford High School will change some restrooms to unisex and possibly convert storage space into an additional locker or changing room. Staff will get training, and leaders will continue consulting with members of the school’s gay/straight alliance.

“I got a reasonable good amount of phone calls pro and con,” said Medford Selectman Robert Penta. “If you follow the legislative directive, if you follow the law and if you follow the directive now that Mr. Chester has put out there, they’re not one in the same and that’s the problem. That’s the problem that I have, the lack of consistency and more importantly I think there is an abuse of the process.”

The Boston Alliance of Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Youth (BAGLY) was instrumental in the law change.

“We wanted to come up with something that would best address their needs and their safety needs and affirming their identities,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, BAGLY, Inc.’s Executive Director and a transgender woman.  “It is important to make sure that the message here is that we are trying to do what’s best for transgendered students who themselves are the most unsafe and the ones who are most at risk."

When it comes to women being uncomfortable with a male student who identifies as a female using the female restroom, Stowell said: “I think there is a big difference between safety and comfort, and safety needs to be the priority."

Source: CBS Boston