On November 18, 1993, Bay Windows (Boston) covered legislation I was working on to protect LGBTQ students in Massachusetts public schools.
More from Bay Windows:
Advocates for gay and lesbian youth say community lobbying is key to getting measures to a full vote, by Christopher Muther
Two bills that would help gay and lesbian teenagers in Massachusetts public schools are currently stalled in legislative committees, and advocates of the bills are planning letter writing and telephone campaigns to see that the bills pass before the end of the year.
The two bills – one that would prevent discrimination against gay male and lesbian students in admission to Massachusetts public schools and another that would write AIDS education guidelines into law – are currently sitting in third reading committees in the state Senate and House of Representatives.
The anti-discrimination bill, House Bill 3353, is the closet to becoming law, but has not beeb released from the Senate’s Third Reading Committee, which has held the bill since the end of October.
One gay activist said that the chances of the bill being released by the end of the year are slim. If the bill is not passed by the end of 1993, the process will have to begin again.
“This is exactly how the gay rights bill failed in 1987 and it took two years to get signed into law after that,” said David LaFontaine, lobbying director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights. “We have to have people calling the [Third Reading Committee], we need to make sure they know how important this is.”
La Fontaine said this is the third year the bill has been submitted, and the furthest it has gotten. Last year, it died in the same committee.
The bill would add sexual orientation to the list of categories protecting students against discrimination in admission to public schools or admissions to classes. The list now includes race, color, sex, religion, and national origin.
The bill would also allow students to sue their public school for tuition at another school if they feel their school is not addressing anti-gay harassment and discrimination. Until the bill passes, gay and lesbian high school students and their supporters have been gathering weekly at the steps of the State House to bring awareness to the issue.
If the bill is released from the Senate’s Third Reading Committee, it will go before the Senate for a second vote, then back to the House of Representatives, where it passed last month. The Senate will then send the bill to Governor William F. Weld, who has said he will sign it.
If passed, La Fontaine said the bill will be the only pro-gay piece of legislation signed into law this year.
A bill that would have extended benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian state employees failed to pass, as did a law that would have stricken archaic sex laws from the books.