Editor's Note: The following statement was issued this afternoon by the office of State Senator Julian Cyr. It is reproduced below exactly as submitted.
(Boston, MA) – On Wednesday, February 22, the Trump administration announced plans to rescind Obama-era guidelines that barred discrimination against transgender students. The federal guidelines were based on policy pioneered in Massachusetts. The guidance asserts that denying transgender students equal access to school programs and activities in accordance with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in public schools.
“This is a civil rights issue and it should not be left up to states to decide whether or not to discriminate against transgender youth anywhere in our communities, including our schools,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Schools should be a safe environment where students can learn, grow and feel accepted in the classroom. Removing federal protection endangers transgender students across the country and completely undermines the value of their education.”
Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) expressed outrage at the direction in which the Trump administration is moving.
“These protections have made a real difference for transgender and gender non-conforming students in schools across our country. For transgender youth, this is a matter of life and death. I am alarmed and saddened by the Trump administration’s disregard for the safety and well-being of all children.”
The federal guidelines put in place by President Obama were modeled after state guidance first adopted in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts guidance, which remains in effect, was issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in consultation with the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, GLAD, and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.
Mason Dunn, executive director of the MTPC described the success that these guidelines have had in Massachusetts.
“Here in Massachusetts we have seen, first hand, the successful implementation of trans-inclusive policies in our public schools. The 2013 DESE guidance, and its implementation, made it clear that open and affirming policies for transgender students is simply good educational practice.”
Fourteen states, including Massachusetts, already have policies in place that affirm the rights of transgender students in schools. More than 40% of public school students nationwide attend schools that support transgender students.
Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the successful bipartisan campaign to update Massachusetts’ nondiscrimination law in 2016 to include protections for transgender people from discrimination in public places, stated that the Commonwealth’s guidelines are now more important than ever.
“The administration’s announcement has no impact on the Commonwealth’s law protecting students from discrimination in schools, under which schools have been successfully balancing the needs of all students for years, ensuring that transgender students – who already face exponentially higher levels of bullying and harassment than their peers – can participate fully and succeed in school just like their non-transgender peers. As always, Massachusetts is and remains a beacon of liberty and fairness, a point of local pride that matters more now than ever.”
Senator Cyr asserted that what remains most important is assuring transgender youth that their rights and education will remain respected and protected in Massachusetts.
“Despite protections from discrimination at the state level, the actions by this Administration send a cruel and harmful message to transgender students in Massachusetts. Now more than ever, it is important for state leaders to let transgender students know we value their education and well-being.”