Malden, Massachusetts — The Massachusetts Commissioner of Education has released an outline of its new school policy regarding gender equality, mandating that boys be allowed to use girls restrooms and locker rooms — and vice versa — if they contend that they prefer to identify with the opposite gender.
The 11-page document, written by Mitchell Chester, is stated to be in response to a gender identity law that was passed last July in the state.
“This guidance is intended to help school and district administrators take steps to create a culture in which transgender and gender nonconforming students feel safe, supported, and fully included, and to meet each school’s obligation to provide equal educational opportunities for all students, in compliance with G.L. c. 76, §5 and the state regulations,” it states.
As part of the outline, entitled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity, Chester explains that students need to be permitted to use whichever bathroom or locker room they wish. He states that as long as the child asserts that they would rather identify with the opposite gender, they should have the access that they desire.
“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” Chester states. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’”
He says that although some children may not like those of the opposite gender sharing such private and personal spaces, school officials must teach children how to overcome their feelings.
“Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student,” the document continues. “School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students.”
He recommended that schools have a unisex bathroom available as well so that students are presented with various options to suit their comfort.
Chester also goes on to mandate that children be addressed by their preferred gender identity and not as their birth gender, including in official school documents, and that they be referred to by their new feminine or masculine name.
“In sum, school personnel should use the student’s chosen name and pronouns appropriate to a student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex,” he states. “For those students who have been attending a school and undergo gender transition while attending the same school, it is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.”
WND reports that some local organizations are disturbed about the policy.
“The School Commissioner’s first duty is to protect all students, from kindergarten to grade 12, not endanger them,” remarked Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute. “The overriding issue with this new policy is that opening girls’ bathrooms to boys is an invasion of privacy and a threat to all students’ safety.”
Democratic state Representative Colleen Garry says that she is working on an amendment to the law that would close up any loopholes allowing such situations.
“Like many of my colleagues, I am very concerned about Commissioner Chester’s directive to open public school bathrooms to all genders,” she stated. “This was not the intent of the leglislature, and we need to pass legislation that clearly defines the use of such facilities.”