An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights
After being sent to study during the 2007-2008 legislative session, the Bathroom Bill came back in early 2009—and supporters garnered over 100 sponsors, by misleading legislators about the bill. According to some, they even implied it would not impact bathrooms.
But the Bathroom Bill impacts all places of public accommodation. Designed to help gender-confused individuals, the Bathroom Bill would add the vague category of “gender identity or expression” to the state ban on discrimination. Among the negative consequences of this law are: a) school children would be taught that they can change their gender if they want and b) women and children would be put at risk since access to sensitive areas such as single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and c) women-only fitness facilities would be open to anyone, regardless of biological sex, and d) anyone speaking out against it could be charged with a “hate crime.”
In 2005, the state of Maine approved its own version of the “Bathroom Bill” and the consequences of this move are being felt. The state’s Human Rights Commission ruled that an elementary-aged boy petitioning for access to the girls’ bathroom could not be required to use a separate bathroom, he must be allowed access to the girls room. This ruling is expected to negatively impact all of Maine. The school’s actions seem reasonable as they protect the privacy and modesty of prepubescent little girls, while also addressing any safety issues regarding the young boy with gender confusion. But the Human Rights Commission, armed with the state’s “Bathroom Bill,” were unsatisfied with this solution.
Here in Massachusetts, our opponents attempted to slip this bill through the Legislature in early 2009 while no one was paying attention, and we prevented them from doing so. We sounded the alarm, and helped educate key legislators about the potential impact on businesses, schools, churches, and all places of public accommodation, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
On July 31, 2010, the legislature adjourned for the rest of the calendar year without taking action on the Bathroom Bill, effectively killing it for the 2009-2010 legislative cycle.
In the past two years, our organizations have done the following to stop the bill:
•Run radio ads to brand it the “Bathroom Bill”
•Penned op-eds that ran in newspapers such as the Worcester Telegram, and Patriot Ledger
•Paid for automated calls to educate tens of thousands of voters about the bill
•Conducted letter drives opposing the measure in dozens of churches
•Held several Lobby Days, bringing constituents to talk to their legislators about it
•Contracted with a professional lobbyist to meet repeatedly with Judiciary Committee members to educate them about the bill
•Brought hundreds of activists to oppose the bill at last year’s official hearing
•Generated tens of thousands of emails from concerned citizens
But the Bathroom Bill is back this year, and it’s important that we let legislators, especially our newly elected representatives and senators, know that supporting the Bathroom Bill is not an option.