On October 14th, 1993, the Boston Globe covered the rally I organized at the Massachusetts State House in support of the The Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Bill.
More from Don Aucoin:
About 300 teen-agers staged a boisterous rally yesterday in the State House to urge the passage of legislation banning discrimination against gay high school students.
The bill, which won approval in the House last week but faces uncertain fate in the Senate, would prohibit discrimination against students in public schools on the basis of their sexual orientation. Under the legislation, students who believe they are victims of discrimination would be entitled to file lawsuits against their schools.
Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci told the crowd that passage of the bill would “send a strong message that discrimination against any student, including gay and lesbian students, will not be tolerated in any school in Massachusetts.” Other speakers said it would help cut high drop out and suicide rates among gay students.
Cellucci appeared deeply affected by stories of harassment recounted by Chris Hannon, a 16-year old Dorchester youth who dropped out of Boston High School after constant abuse by classmates, and [Marsian] De Lellis, a 17-year-old senior at Belmont High School.
“Every day I hear the words ‘homo,’ ‘faggot,’ ‘queer,'” Hannon said. “Every day I wondered: ‘How much longer can this go on?'”
Hannon said the abuse intensified in his sophmore year. “I was pushed, kicked, thrown against lockers, and worst of all, spit on like some vile piece of trash,” he told the hushed crowd.
When he complained to a guidance counselor, she asked him: “Couldn’t you act a little less gay?” according to Hannon. When he complained about physical abuse to other school officials, he was told they could not guarantee his safety, Hannon said. Eventually, he dropped out.
William Kezema, principal of Boston College High School, told the Associated Press that while Hannon was harassed by some students, the youth turned down offers of counseling and other help. “He had total support from the school,” he said.
De Lellis said classmates surrounded him one day on a soccer field, spat upon him until his shirt was soaking wet and hurled dog feces at him. On a virtually daily basis, he hears epithets such as “fag,” he said, while “teachers pretend not to hear these slurs and students go unpunished.”
After listening to Hannon and DeLellis, Cellucci, with anger in his voice, declared that “that kind of hate has no place in our schools and it has no place in our state.”
In addition to Cellucci, public officials present at the rally included Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston), sponsor of the bill; David Mulligan, commissioner of public health; Michael Duffy, commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination; and Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Boston).