Information on State Laws and Policies Regarding LGBTQ Students and the Amended Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law
Several Massachusetts laws exist to ensure that all students have access to the education they need to thrive, including:
- The Massachusetts Student Anti-discrimination Law, Chapter 76, Section 5, which was amended in 1993 to include sexual orientation as a protected category; and
- The 2012 Gender Identity Law, which amended Chapter 76, Section 5 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Please make sure that your handbooks and other school documents are updated to reflect the amended laws. In particular, note that the Gender Identity Law explicitly states that "gender identity" should appear directly after "sex" in enumerated categories:
No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.
In light of these statutes, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education revised its Access to Equal Education Opportunity Regulations and Charter School Regulations to reflect the broadened anti-discrimination provisions. In January 2011, to assist school officials in implementing the bullying intervention and prevention law, the Department issued the Guidance on Notifying Parents When a Student Has Been Bullied Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity/Expression. In February 2013, to assist school officials in implementing the Act Relative to Gender Identity, the Department issued the Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.
Chapter 71, Section 37O, (School Bullying Prohibited: Bullying Prevention Plans) was amended through the following outside sections of the FY14 State Budget: School Bullying School Staff Clarification; School Bullying School Staff Clarification; and Expansion of School Staff in School Bullying Law. These amendments expand the definition of bullying "perpetrators" from only students to include school staff. Finally, subsections (k) to (n), effective July 23, 2014, addresses annually reporting of bullying incident data to the department.