As Trump continues forward with his effort to roll back Obama Era regulations that allow students to use the facilities they identify with, Boston is not accepting this regressive plan. Massachusetts and Boston Public Schools have both taken strong steps to make sure people within the LGBTQ community have the rights and security they deserve. The only problem is that many students are not aware of their rights within the school system.
From being the first state to grant same-sex marriage licenses in 2004, to a non-discrimination policy for transgender students that dates back to 2011, Massachusetts has always been the pioneer of change. Still, Boston Publics has done an even better job of safeguarding the identities of non-gender conforming students, stating “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” (Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of the Freedom Massachusetts campaign).
As Superintendent Tommy Chang and Mayor Marty Walsh continue to advocate for and stand by the policies in place, schools must do their part by informing students about their rights within the school and all other public spaces. Many students are not aware of their ability to use the bathroom they identify with, and before the faculty meeting at the end of September 2017, many teachers were unaware of the policies in place that support transgender students. Although the school as many issues on its plate, it is still necessary that in some way students are notified of their rights. Whether we use the school-wide assemblies at the beginning of the school year or the many notices that go out to families, the school needs to do a better job of providing this information without singling students out.
We must also remember that just because our Commonwealth protects the rights of disenfranchised communities does not mean we can rest. We must continue to advocate for federal regulations in support of the LGBTQ+ community, keeping in mind that all people have the right to live their truth.
Adna Mohamed ‘18