GLAD submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Public Access to Court Records Committee expressing concerns about a proposed new rule, Trial Court Rule XIV, regarding expanded internet access to criminal case records.
The letter expresses concern that expanding internet access to records in criminal cases conflicts both with laws on the sealing of records, as well as with the spirit of Massachusetts' reformed CORI laws - and that such broad access is likely to hurt people who need jobs the most.
The letter, authored by Legal Director Gary Buseck, goes on to say:
"We are also aware of how the criminal justice system negatively and wrongly impacted gay men for many years. Now, and historically, the racial disparities in our criminal justice system raise serious concerns about harms to people in communities of color as a result of internet access to records.
Lastly, we are concerned about errors in court records and how those unintentional errors become effectively compounded by broad dissemination by individuals and the criminal background checking industry. And, of course, both with and without errors, there is the danger of criminal use of court records to harass, bully and otherwise harm individuals who have reason to believe that their privacy should be protected in such matters."
GLAD was a member of the coaltion that successfully worked to reform Massachusetts CORI laws in 2010.
Public Accommodations Protections for Transgender People in Massachusetts
GLAD is a member of the coalition Freedom Massachusetts, which has been working for passage of An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination.
The bill would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations. Massachusetts law currently prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion, and marital status.
Current non-discrimination law in the Commonwealth does not expressly protect transgender people in public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, hospitals, public transportation, and parks.
“In failing to expressly protect its most marginalized citizens as they go about their daily business, Massachusetts is falling behind in its leadership role on equality for all. Being able to point to a statewide policy of inclusion and support will give me and many others the authority we often need to respond when others are telling us to leave a public space or that we are wrong to be there.”
- Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director, in testimony on the bill
For the latest information on the bill, and to take action, visit www.freedommassachusetts.org
Ending Conversion Therapy in New Hampshire
Following the passage of HB 1661 in the New Hampshire House, GLAD Executive Director Janson Wu is presenting testimony April 5 before the state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services in support of a statewide ban on so-called "conversion therapy" with minors. Read his senate committee testimony here.
Wu previously testified February 2, 2016 before the New Hampshire General Court Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in support of HB 1661, which would ban the practice. The bill passed the New Hampshire House on March 23, 2016.
House Bill 1661 “prohibits persons licensed to provide professional counseling from engaging in the discredited and harmful practice of seeking to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“The imposition of 'conversion therapy,' especially on minors, is a remnant of our nation’s shameful history of oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," Wu says in his testimony. "Its premise is that homosexuality is abnormal behavior and a mental disorder that must be changed.”
The New Hampshire legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBT people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of HB 1661 is a critical step necessary to further these goals.
GLAD is working to pass HB 1661 in coalition with PFLAG New Hampshire, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Ending Conversion Therapy in Vermont
On May 25, 2015, Governor Shumlin signed a bill making Vermont a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ youth – by banning the harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”
With this historic step, Vermont became the first state in New England to join California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Washington D.C. in not only protecting LGBTQ youth from this practice, but sending those young people a message that they are perfectly okay. Read more
GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright submitted written testimony in support of the bill:
"This practice, most commonly known as 'conversion therapy,' strays from Vermont's long-standing history of preserving the safety and dignity of its LGBTQ residents. As the first state in the nation to offer legal recognition to same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions, the Vermont legislature has a proud history of eradicating discrimination against LGBTQ people as well as enacting laws that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. The passage of S 132 is a critical step necessary to further these goals."
Wright's testimony describes the consensus in the medical community that so-called conversion therapy is ineffective and, in fact, harmful, and asserts that the passage of this bill will send a positive message to all LGBTQ youth:
"The harms that come to LGBTQ youth as a result of negative feelings about their own identities, as well as the prevalence of bullying and harassment by others, can be traced in significant part to the underlying notion of abnormality or "otherness." Passage of S 132 will send a powerful and important message to all people: there is nothing about one's sexual orientation or gender identity that needs to be changed because being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer is normal and healthy."
GLAD’s Jennifer Levi Testifies in Support of Transgender Equality
Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, testified today at the Massachusetts Statehouse in support of a bill providing protections in public accommodations for the state’s transgender citizens.
Testimony on SB 735 and HB 1577 was heard before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Current non-discrimination law in the Commonwealth does not expressly protect transgender people in public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, hospitals, public transportation, and parks.
“In failing to expressly protect its most marginalized citizens as they go about their daily business, Massachusetts is falling behind in its leadership role on equality for all,” said Levi in her testimony, the full text of which can be read here on GLAD’s website. “Being able to point to a statewide policy of inclusion and support will give me and many others the authority we often need to respond when others are telling us to leave a public space or that we are wrong to be there.”
An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations. Massachusetts law currently prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion, and marital status. GLAD is a member of the coalition Freedom Massachusetts, which has been working for passage of the bill.
Adding a Non-Discrimination Clause to the Rhode Island Children’s Bill of Rights
Update: Victory! The Rhode Island House passed the bill June 24 and the governor has signed it into law!
Read testimony submitted by GLAD's Youth Initiative Director Vickie Henry
June18, 2015 Rhode Island Action Alert
Rhode Island House Speaker Mattiello is holding up the addition of a non-discrimination clause to the Children's Bill of Rights for kids in DCYF care. The Senate version passed the Senate unanimously and was called a "no brainer" by the ACLU and the HEW committee members. In fact, throughout the hearing people seemed surprised to learn that this was not already included in that document. Both bills are now sitting in the HEW committee.
Please call the Speaker at 222-2466 and express support for H5586. This is not an LGBTQ specific bill but it does include sexual orientaiton and gender identity and expression in the language.
That language may be part of why the speaker is holding up the bill. Please reinforce that this is about ALL kids having knowledge of the rights that they already have. And it is important to also note that the Massachusetts Children's Bill or Rights lists their non-discrimination clause as item #1.
The bill sponsors are: Diaz, Slater, Ruggiero, Tanzi, Maldonado and the bill proposes adding the following language:
(q) No child shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with an individual orgroup who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics.
Why Add Nondiscrimination Language to Children’s Bill of Rights?
• The Children’s Bill of Rights is a document given to children who come into DCYF care to explain all the rights they have within the child welfare system. The right to be free from discrimination is the most fundamental right they have and should be added.
• The nondiscrimination language proposed for the Children’s Bill of Rights includes only protected classes that are currently included in Rhode Island State law. Including it in this document insures youth know that this law exists and that they are protected by it.
• The children within the child welfare system are already a vulnerable population and need to know they will be protected against all forms of discrimination. Seeing nondiscrimination language within their Bill of Rights shows them that the state is paying attention to their treatment.
• Children from minority populations have often faced discrimination in other settings and need to know they will be respected within state care.
• All child welfare experts and agencies agree this is important for children in state care including the Department for Children, Youth and Families, the Child Advocates Office, Family Services, Child and Family Services, Adoption RI, Foster Forward, and St. Mary’s Home for Children among others.
• Expressly informing youth of their rights might provide some protection to the state from liability for damage claims. This is for two major reasons: 1) it reminds staff of their obligations; and 2) it helps youth self-advocate and avoid the need for legal action.
• The Massachusetts’ Foster Children’s Bill of Rights includes nondiscrimination language as their first bullet point.
GLAD’s Jennifer Levi Testifies in Support of Modernizing Process for Amending CT Birth Certificates
GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi testified today in support of CT HB 7006, An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments.
HB 7006 would modernize Connecticut's standard for correcting birth certificates issued to transgender people who are born in Connecticut. The bill would revise Connecticut law to reflect the contemporary medical standard of care for transgender people and make it possible for transgender people to have documentation that recognized their lived experiences and that diminishes their exposure to discrimination, harassment, and violence.
Excerpts from Levi's testimony:
"It is important for a transgender person’s emotional well-being that everything in their life aligns with their chosen name and gender identity.In addition, transgender people still face serious discrimination in their lives, and a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and the sex listed on an identification document can result in “outing” the person and increasing the chances that the person will be discriminated against or be subjected to harassment or violence. Not having documentation that matches a person’s gender identity can lead to discrimination in housing, education, and employment, and increases the risk that a person may be reliant on government support for basic subsistence. Also, in this age of increased security, a gender mismatch on an identification document makes every day experiences more challenging.
The current standard for correcting gender designations on birth certificates [in Connecticut] is outdated and not supported by contemporary medical views... The proposed amendment would bring Connecticut in line with 7 other jurisdictions and several federal agencies who have modernized their birth certificates standards. Included among them are the states of Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, as well as the District of Columbia. Federal agencies that revised their standards include the State Department, Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, Office of Personnel and Management, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Connecticut’s Registry of Motor Vehicles also allows transgender people to change the gender designation on their driver’s licenses with no requirement for surgery."
You can read Levi's complete submitted written testimony here.
Testimony on RI H 5383: An Act Related to Education - School Committees and Superintendents
GLAD Youth Initiative Director Vickie Henry submitted testimony March 11 on H 5383: An Act Related to Education - School Committees and Superintendents.
H 5383 would amend Section 16-2-17 of the Rhode Island General Laws in Chapter 16-2 entitled "School Committees and Superintendents" to "direct all school superintendents to review discipline data for their school district, to decide whether there is an unequal impact on students based on race, ethnicity, or disability status, and to respond to any disparity."
GLAD supports the adoption of this amendment, but also urges that gender identity and sexual orientation, if known, be added to the categories for which data is collected.
In her written testimony, Henry presents evidence demonstrating that LGBTQ youth suffer punishments by school authories that are disproportionate to their rates of transgressive behavior, and that nine percent of students report being disciplined simply for indentifying as LGBTQ.
Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors
HD 3202 sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and also known as the "conversion therapy ban bill," would ban practices, erroneously called “therapy,” that purport to heal or change a minor’s same-sex attraction or transgender identity.
Specifically it would:
- Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging with a minor in therapeutic practices aimed at changing or healing the minor’s sexual orientation, in particular same-sex attraction.
- Prohibit any licensed medical, mental health, or human service professional as defined in Chapter 112 from engaging in therapeutic practices aimed at eliminating a minor’s sincerely held conviction that their birth assigned gender is different or inappropriate from their actual gender identity, and related practices aimed to discourage that minor from seeking a transition to the gender they identify as.
- Charge state mandatory reporters to report cases of suspected instances where a minor is being subjected to reparative or conversion therapy by a state licensed professional.
- Define advertisements of such reparative therapy or conversion therapy as deceptive acts or practices in violation of state consumer protections laws, and subject to rules and regulations by the state Attorney General.
Addressing LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in Massachusetts
GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright submitted testimony to support the Boston City Council’s effort to address unaccompanied youth homelessness, an epidemic impacting the health and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in Massachusetts.
Excerpts from her testimony:
"In order to address this epidemic, homeless shelters within the city of Boston must be held accountable under Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws as well as Boston City ordinances, and should adopt LGBTQ inclusive policies to ensure LGBTQ youth are receiving services at homeless shelters free of discrimination."
"National studies estimate that up to 40% of youth who are homeless or are at-risk of becoming homeless identify as LGBTQ. Family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is the primary factor contributing to homelessness amongst LGBTQ youth - most of whom are youth of color."
"Once homeless, LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of physical and sexual violence and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, including, but not limited to, HIV. Unaccompanied homeless LGBTQ youth are also at higher risk of developing substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and physical health issues. Finally, unaccompanied homeless LGBTQ youth are more likely to engage in survival crimes like sex work and petty theft. Thus, they are at higher risk of interacting with the criminal justice system."
"The city of Boston should encourage homeless shelters within the city to adopt transgender-inclusive policies that ensures the full inclusion and equal treatment of transgender people who reside at the shelter."
Working for Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections in New Hampshire
Victory! The Portsmouth City Council passed this resolution on March 3 with a unanimous vote of 9-0! Read more
Portsmouth Herald/Seacoast Online: City Councilors Should Back Transgender Protections
GLAD has been working with local partners, including Transgender New Hampshire, to lay the building blocks to winning statewide gender identity non-discrimination protections in New Hampshire.
On March 3, Portsmouth has an opportunity to add a critical building block by being the first city in New Hampshire to provide crucial employment protections for transgender people.
Portsmouth city councilors will consider a proposal brought by Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine: A Resolution Directing the City Manager to Adopt a Policy of Non-Discrimination Regarding Transgender Municipal Employees and Supporting Statewide Anti-Discrimination Protections for Transgender Individuals.
New Hampshire residents can take action now to encourage the city council to ensure transgender people have the same opportunity as anyone else to get a job and contribute to their town. The resolution also sends the message that New Hampshire should join more than 200 municipalities, 17 states, and the District of Columbia in providing non-discrimination protections for transgender people in all areas of life.
Using this link New Hampshire residents can send a message to all Portsmouth city councilors urging them to support this important resolution. Sample language for your message is provided here, but it's always best to use your own words:
Subject: Transgender Non-Discrimination Resolution
I'm writing to urge your support of the resolution to protect transgender people from discrimination. Any person who applies for a job should be valued by their work ethic and not dismissed simply because of who they are. Transgender people pay taxes and make Portsmouth a more vibrant city; they should have the same opportunities as anyone else. This is a step in the right direction for Portsmouth, and will send the message that we need protections for transgender people in all of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is the last state in New England to have no non-discrimination protections in place for transgender people.
Statement by Attorney Vickie Henry Before The Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth
GLAD presented testimony June 20 before the MA Commission on GLBT Youth panel addressing the needs of youth across the state. Here is an excerpt from the testimony presented by Senior Attorney Vickie Henry, who leads GLAD’s Youth Initiative:
Chairman Lipkin and Members of the Committee:
As the leader of GLAD’s youth work, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of youth across the Commonwealth, from Boston to Pittsfield to Salem to Hyannis to Holyoke and more. GLAD has been co-presenting a Got Rights? workshop for students with youth from BAGLY, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. I have been able to speak directly with these young people as well as GSA advisors and teachers about what they need and how schools and the law can do better by our youth. I have also spoken to youth who experienced our foster care system. The theme of this testimony is that adults can and must do better – we need to enact stronger laws and we need the adults charged with implementing those laws to set the tone that the Commonwealth, its agencies, and the school districts within it support LGBTQ youth and will not permit discrimination against them.
Key Points From the Testimony:
- Out-of-Home Youth Need Safe Shelter
- LGBTQ Youth Need Transparency and Accountability From Schools When They Report Bullying
- LGBTQ Youth Need Advocates in Every School, Not Just in the Statehouse
- Creating a Positive School Climate Will Not Only Protect Youth From Bullying, But Also Improve Academic Performance
Read the full testimony here.
Supporting House Bill 2277, “An Act Relative to Safe Harbor for Exploited Children”
GLAD is part of a coalition working to pass HB 2277, better known as the “human trafficking bill.” Read attorney Ashley Dunn’s testimony to learn the potential impact of this legislation on homeless LGBTQ youth.
Public hearing for HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination
The Connecticut Judiciary Committee Public Hearing on HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination took place on March 21, 2011.
If passed, HB 6599: An Act Concerning Discrimination will add gender identity and gender expression to CT non-discrimination law.
Jennifer Levi, GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project Director, was among the many who testified in support of the bill. You can read Jennifer’s testimony here.
For more information about the bill and to get involved, visit ctEquality.org
New Hampshire: Ask Senator Gregg to Support ENDA
On Thursday, November 5, the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) will receive an important hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Without passage of ENDA, no federal legislation explicitly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg sits on the HELP committee, but has not yet declared his support for ENDA. Now is the time to contact Senator Gregg and let him know how crucial this legislation is for LGBT citizens in New Hampshire and across the U.S.
Call (202-224-3324) or email Senator Gregg today and remind him that no qualified employee should be denied workplace opportunities simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
For more information and talking points on ENDA, visit www.unitedenda.org
Why do we need an employment non discrimination act that includes sexual orientation and gender identity?
Watch this video:
GLAD’s Mary Bonauto Testifies in Support of Maine Anti-Discrimination Regulations
GLAD Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto today presented testimony in favor of proposed regulations for implementing Maine’s ant-discrimination law. The law, ratified by voters in 2005, provides protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and education. The regulations are significant in providing a working definition of gender identity and gender expression.
Testimony and Reports from the NH Commission on Civil Rights
Testimony and Reports from the NH Commission on the Civil Rights, Responsibilities, Laws and Legal Obligations Related to Same-Sex Unions
Entire Minority Report [pdf]
GLAD’s Testimony [pdf]
Professor Barbara Cox Testimony [pdf]
Dr. Marshall Forstein Testimony [pdf] and Attachments [pdf] [14 MB]
Dr. Ellen Perrin Testimony [pdf]
Economist Lee Badgett Testimony [pdf]
Professor Nancy Cott Testimony [pdf]
Steve Varnum Testimony [pdf]
Susan Hassan, Esq. Testimony [pdf]