In the early 90’s, I was an advocate for anti-discrimination legislation protecting LGBTQ students in Massachusetts public schools.
Up until 1993, Massachusetts law protected students against discrimination in admission to public schools or access to courses and activities on the basis of:
- national origin
House Bill 3353, The Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Bill, proposed adding sexual orientation to the protected classes.
The Student Advisory Council, a statewide network of students working on educational initiatives, filed House Bill 3353. 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. I worked closely with political director, David LaFontaine and Volunteer Coordinator, 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. Speakers included fellow activist Chris Hannon, David LaFontaine, Lt. Gov. Paul Celucci, the bill’s cheif sponsor, Rep Byron Rushing, and myself
Over three hundred attended the rally, which was covered by all three major local news stations, The New York Times, The Boston Herald, and The Boston Globe.
After the rally I helped to coordinate a lobby date. Groups of students from gay-straight alliances across the state lobbied their 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.
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