The Philadelphia Inquirer

On December 11, 1993, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on the Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Law which I had worked on.

More from Inquirer Wire Service:

The governor signed the bill into law. The rule allows homosexual rights suits against districts.

Boston – Spurred by an extraordinary crusade by hundreds of students, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation yesterday to ban discrimination against homosexual and lesbian students in public schools.

Republican Governor William Weld signed into law a bill that affirms the rights of gay and lesbian students and allows them to initiate lawsuits against school systems that discriminate or subject them to harassment.

The Gay and Lesbian Students Rights Bill was approved by the state Senate on Monday after a campaign by about 500 high school students who held candlelight vigils and lobbied their legislators. Some testified before the Senate that they had been ridiculed, attacked and insulted a school for being gay.

“This is the single greatest victory that gay youth in America have ever won,” said David Lafontaine, political director of the state Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights.

“This is a bill of rights for every young gay person in our public schools. They now have a legal weapon to [combat] name-calling, hatred and violence that drives so many gay teens to attempt suicide or drop out of school,” Lafontaine said.

Some school systems have gay rights policies, but no other state has adopted a law that flatly bans discrimination against gays in schools said the group Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which is based in Washington.

In 1989, Massachusetts became the second state, behind Wisconsin, to enact a gay rights law that banned discrimination against homosexuals in housing, credit and employment.

Weld, a Republican, “feels schools should be places where students can learn,” said spokeswoman Virginia Buckingham. “No one should be discriminated against based on their sexual preference.”

Opponents of gay rights condemned Weld’s “total subservience to the homosexual lobby.”

“The next step is homosexual programs in public schools that specifically affirm the gay lifestyle, and that will be done at taxpayer expense,” said C.J. Doyle, director of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.