While much work has been done in the United States over the years, including the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court this past June on marriage equality, there is still a long ways to go. Transgender rights and equality has been the theme of many organizations throughout 2015. Pending legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would expand nondiscrimination protection for transgender individuals in business and other facilities that are open to the public.
“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been a pioneer in protecting and advancing the civil rights of LGBT people and this legislation affirms the state’s commitment to treat all of its citizens with equal dignity and respect,” said Eric Gouvin, Dean at the Western New England University School of Law.
On Friday, November 6, 2015, the Western New England University School of Law faculty voted unanimously in favor of a resolution of support for pending legislation, noting such exclusion has no place in higher education.
“The Law School strives to provide an inclusive educational environment for all our students,” said Professor Jennifer Levi. “We support statewide efforts to ensure that all public accommodations throughout the Commonwealth are open and accessible to all – including transgender residents.”
Advocates are pressing the state legislature to address the pending legislation, known as S.735 and H.1577, before it breaks for the holidays on November 19. Massachusetts nondiscrimination laws already protect transgender residents in other areas of state law, including areas such employment, public education, credit, and housing. No express law protects transgender patrons in restaurants and other places of public accommodation.
Other organizations in higher education have also expressed public support for pending legislation, including:
- Boston College Lambda Law Students Association
- Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus
- Harvard Transgender Task Force
- Harvard University
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design Student Government Association
- Mount Holyoke College
- Northeastern University
- Public Higher Education Network Of Massachusetts
- Simmons College
- Tufts University
- UMass Dartmouth Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality