Does MA’s Bullying Law Require Schools to Recognize “Categories of Students, Including LGBTQ Students”?

Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts

There was great news last week for safe-schools and LGBT-equality advocates in Massachusetts, where the governor signed a measure strengthening the state’s anti-bullying law.

The many advocates who worked for the bill’s passage—including the organization Mass Equality and state Attorney General Martha Coakley—deserve wholehearted thanks and congratulations from those who believe in safe schools for all youth. Still, it’s worth pointing out an inaccuracy that appears in statements issued by the law’s supporters as well as in the media. Some advocates, journalists and bloggers have suggested that the law requires schools to single out specific groups, including LGBTQ students, for special protections. This is incorrect, though I recognize that the law may appear ambiguous on this point, at least at first glance.

Clarifying this issue may help prevent confusion among those who must work to implement the law; it may also help ensure that, moving forward, safe-schools advocates who favor inclusive policies don’t inadvertently feed into anti-LGBT talking points. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

More Updates to the FAQ Post on California’s New Transgender Student Equality Law

California map in blue

I’ve again updated this post: California’s New Transgender Equality Law & the Effort to Repeal It: Frequently Asked Questions.

The updated version improves the section discussing legal developments outside of California; for example, it better incorporates recent news from Maine, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a transgender student in a discrimination case brought by GLAD. The updated version also includes information from a fantastic February 11 post by Luke Brinker of Equality Matters (a project of Media Matters); Brinker’s posts debunks some of the right wing myths and hysteria over California’s new law.


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Why I Haven’t Posted the Rest of VICE’s “Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia” Videos

Nikolai Alexeyev

I recently posted the first two installments of a VICE video series called Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia. Though VICE released three additional videos in the series on YouTube, I’ve decided against posting them here (or even linking to them), as I was disturbed by VICE’s uncritical coverage of Nikolai Alexeyev in the fourth and fifth installments.

Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Is California’s New Transgender Equality Law Really “Unique” and “Unprecedented”?

Map of California, Green on Blue

California’s new transgender student equality law, which took effect on January 1, ensures that all public school students, including transgender students, have access to sex-segregated facilities and programs consistent with their gender identity.

Media reports and commentaries tend to describe the law as “unique,” “groundbreaking,” “unprecedented,” and the “first of its kind.” Are these exaggerations, or does the new law, often called AB 1266, truly adopt a novel approach to transgender issues?

I’ve published an answer to this question in an update to an earlier post, California’s New Transgender Equality Law & the Effort to Repeal It: Frequently Asked Questions. Here’s a teaser:

AB 1266 is, in limited but important respects, unique. But media reports and commentaries often exaggerate the extent to which the law breaks new ground, because they overlook similar legal developments at all levels of government and in different parts of the country. Authorities charged with enforcing federal, state and local non-discrimination laws have increasingly recognized the right of all students, including transgender students, to access programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Click here to read, from the beginning, the full post on California’s new law, or click here to jump directly to the new question and answer.


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