I was interviewed by Fred Briggs for the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw in a segment called “It’s the law” about newly signed legislation protecting LGBT students in Massachusetts public schools.. The segment also featured fellow teen activist Chris Hannon, Sarah Longberg-Lew, and Jessica Beyers, Project 10 East coordinator, Al Ferreira, David LaFontaine from the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, Governor William F. Weld, Representative Byron Rushing (a co-sponsor of the law), and critic, C.J. Doyle, from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Tom Brokaw: … And a landmark piece of gay rights legislation signed today in Boston – its aim, protecting homosexual students in public schools. More now from NBC’s Fred Briggs.
“Free to Be”
Chris Hannon: I was pushed, kicked, thrown against lockers, and worst of all, spit on..
Fred Briggs: A gay high school student – one of hundreds who lobbied state legislators to pass a bill prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in Massachusetts public schools. Governor William Weld signed the bill into law today.
Gov Weld: They’re protected under Massachusetts law in terms of non-discrimination.
Fred Briggs: Massachusetts already has a law protecting gays from discrimination, but its been interpreted to apply to adults mainly – certainly not children, certainly not in school. In a nationwide survey by the Department of Health and Human Services, it was found 28% of gay students drop out of school. The survey also showed 30 percent of teenage suicides were teens trying to deal with their feelings of homosexuality. As for Massachusetts..
David LaFontaine: There are over ten thousand kids who are directly affected by the Gay Student Rights Bill.
Fred Briggs: Gay students say they want to be free of harassment by teachers or classmates and they want to be able to have after school gay and lesbian clubs like this one.
Marsian De Lellis: They can’t be denied the right to an equal amount of extra curricular activities.
Fred Briggs: The bill has teeth and it it says if any gay student is discriminated against..
Rep. Byron Rushing: ..that student now knows that he can go to the administration and he can expect the administration of that school to be on his side and follow the law.
Fred Briggs: And the student can sue the school if it isn’t. Although 51 percent of the state is Roman Catholic, the church has been silent on the law, but not Catholic lay mens’ groups.
C.J. Doyle: This is an effort to use the schools to prostelatize, legitimize, and validate homosexual behavior.
Fred Briggs: Backers of the bill said it’s just a way to have students and teachers respect gay students and their lifestyles, and now it’s the law.