Gay + Lesbian Youth – Making History

Swearing In of
the Governor’s Commission
June 11, 1992

GOV WELD: I would like to call upon the new commission to conduct public hearings across the state during the next few months, we need to hear from gay youth themselves. We need to hear from parents, and teachers, and social service providers. The Commission I expect will take testimony, will gather information, will make recommendations to us on how to confront the root problems which lead to gay youth suicide.  At this time, the Lt. Governor and I would like to jointly conduct the swearing in of the members of the Commission. If each of you please raise your right hand and repeat after me after the pronoun, “I,” each time that I say it.

“I, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance…”

Jessica Byers, 16 year old
Member of the Commission

JESSICA BYERS: Hi I’m Jessica Byers. I just want to say that I think that this commission being state wide is really important, because I hope that it will help more high schools start up groups like Project Ten East at my school which provides an affirmative place for gay and lesbian teenagers, and a place where their friends and supporters can just come to express their support. There’s no reason for kids to feel desperately lonely because just because of their sexuality. Sexuality should be about love and it shouldn’t inspire hatred.


JESSICA BYERS: It’s true that one person’s sexuality isn’t always everyone’s business but until we can get rid of all the ignorance and all be comfortable with each other, it has to be discussed when kids are young and in schools and everywhere.

David La Fontaine,
Chairman of the Commission

DAVID LAFONTAINE: …Because this really signals a new phase, a new direction, for the gay rights movement. It’s a new kind of activism. It’s a new focus. For the first time we are coming together as a community and that includes our family and our friends. And we are saying, we are going to make advocating for gay and lesbian youth a top priority. They are not going to be put behind the gay rights bill. They are not going to be shunted aside because the right wing accusations about recruiting children. We are going to put their needs first.  And I think that’s what this commission is about. It’s a coming together of people who recognize that there’s nothing more important than giving a voice to gay and lesbian kids and ensuring that they will have the healthy and happy future that they deserve.

As chair of the commission, my top priority is going to be to examine and change what goes on in school systems. For gay and lesbian kids, life in school can be a daily nightmare — a nightmare of abuse, harassment, threats of physical assault. Many of them can’t bear it. Many of them leave school. Many of them leave home. Too many of them attempt suicide. And we have an obligation. We have a moral obligation to make sure all kids — gay and straight — have a safe and healthy learning atmosphere. That’s an obligation that the state of Massachusetts, I believe must live up to. This is a child welfare issue – No more or no less