Up until 1993, Massachusetts law protected students against discrimination in terms of admission to public schools or access to school courses and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, religion, and national origin. House Bill 3353 – “The Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Bill”, proposed adding sexual orientation to the protected classes.
House Bill 3353 was filed by the Student Advisory Council, a statewide network of students working on a number of educational initiatives. The bill had forty-one co-sponsors, with Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) and Sen. Robert Havern (D-Arlington) as the chief sponsors.
In the fall of 1993, I began volunteering with the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights as the Youth Outreach Coordinator working with David LaFontaine as who was the political Director and lead volunteer, Bernie Gardella. In previous years, The Coalition worked on successful efforts to pass the Gay Civil Rights Bill, the Hate Crimes Reporting Act, and the bill which led to the formation of Gov. Weld’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth in Massachusetts.
On October 13, 1993, I organized a rally with the Coalition at the Massachusetts State House. I was among the featured speakers which included fellow activist Chris Hannon, David LaFontaine, Lt. Gov. Paul Celucci, and chief bill sponsor, Rep Byron Rushing, among others. At least three hundred were in attendance at the rally. The rally was covered by all three major local news stations, the New York Times, the Boston Herald, and The Boston Globe, which ran an editorial in its support. The rally was followed by a lobby date where groups of students from gay-straight alliances across the state lobbied senators and representatives.
On December 6th, 1993, the bill passed through the Senate Committee’s Third Reading (often a procedural graveyard for legislation) where it was held up for over a month.
The Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Bill was signed into law by Gov. Weld on December 10th, 1993. The following week, I attended the Gay & Lesbian Student Rights Law bill signing ceremony in Governor Weld’s office. Also in attendance were key people in the bill’s passage, including Emily Fishbein, Allison Bowen, Jamie Resnick, Paul Celucci, Chris Hannon, David LaFontaine, Rep. Byron Rushing, Sarah Lonberg-Lew, Anya Yankovich, and Phyllis Scattergood.