Ally Johnson Journal Staff
This past Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Education issued an eleven page directive affirming rights of transgender students. This will provide guidelines for educators on how to uphold the identities of transgender and gender non-conforming students.
As outlined, transgender students must be allowed to use restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity and must be permitted to play on sport teams with the gender that they align with. Any person, student or otherwise, who deems it appropriate to purposefully use an incorrect pronoun or names as a way of deliberately harassing a transgender student will be subject to punishment and disciplinary action.
These rules and regulations were given a second look after the state’s 2011 anti-discrimination law was taken into review in order to include transgender students. Transgender youth advocates are in deep support of the movement, hoping that this will allow aid for the confusion surrounding teachers, students, parents and administrators on how to conduct and take part in a safe and giving environment, inclusive to all students, transgender or not.
There will undoubtedly be backlash from the dependable right-wing individuals who wish for the traditional and restrictive to power on – but for now this is a wonderful step in the right and progressive direction.
Being the long suffering and silent group of the LGBTQ advocacy, it’s time for their plight to be recognized and for action towards equality to be taken. Where better to start than in the school systems? School K-12 is ideally where children and teenagers alike go for a sense of safety, but for too long, many of the LGBTQ students have felt a sense of danger. As of late, there has been much change for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, and now Massachusetts has set a model for every other state to follow.
It’s all the more impressive when you consider outside sources. Although Hollywood likes to proclaim itself as the progressive mold, a group of individuals always a step ahead of the rest, they have an unfortunate history of using derogative words such as “tranny” in regards to transgender characters. David O’Russel – a director who reportedly molested his transgender niece and then blamed her surgery for the event – was just this last Sunday welcomed at the 85th Oscars, where he was nominated for Best Director for his film Silver Linings Playbook.
As a society, people like to label, and box in, and make sure everything has a specific spot in which they fit with other like-minded people. Transgender individuals, and transgendered youth especially, tend to raise an eyebrow on those of whom have yet to accept the idea that not everyone is going to fit into their pre-conceived notions.
If there is still a judgmental world awaiting these high schoolers now, in four years’ time, at the very least make sure that those years of puberty and emotional turmoil aren’t inflected by any more anxiety than necessary. Massachusetts is setting an example. With articles being published about the difficulties of transgender employees, with Oregon being the first state to include them in Medicaid, it’s difficult to see where we’re headed and whether it will be for the better or worse. But for now, we have to congratulate our state for being one of the few that will deliberately and assertively take action with the crisis of keeping transgender youth safe and happy.