Educators, Advocates, Youth & Families Applaud New Guidance for Implementing Transgender Non- Discrimination Law in Public Schools

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on Feb. 15 issued comprehensive guidelines that aim to ensure Massachusetts public schools comply with the new transgender non-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against transgender students in all school programs and activities. The DESE guidelines were praised by an array of advocates, educators, families and youth.

“The guidelines offer practical, expert advice to ensure that transgender students have equal educational opportunities including the chance to learn in a safe, affirming environment,” said Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. “GLAD applauds DESE for issuing commonsense guidance and for taking leadership in ensuring schools’ compliance with the new law.”

“This very practical guidance answers the questions we hear over and over, giving schools, parents, and students a blueprint for implementing change,” said Deborah Peeples, board president of Greater Boston PFLAG and the parent of a transgender youth. “As primary advocates, parents and families need to know how we can expect schools to handle critical issues like proper name and pronoun usage, privacy, and access to both appropriate facilities and opportunities. It’s much easier to move forward when we’re all on the same page and working together. Kudos to the DESE.”

“Coming out as transgender in school is such a difficult process and being unable to be out and feel safe is detrimental to a person’s education,” said Carter Blake, a 23-year-old graduate of Dorchester High School who is transgender. “I think these guidelines, which will help schools make transgender students feel safe and respected at school, will make a real difference in the lives of transgender kids in school across our state, and that’s a good thing.”

“Research shows that transgender and gender non-conforming students suffer higher rates of verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault in school. We also know that there is a lot of misunderstanding about transgender students and that some schools may not have the internal expertise to address all issues of concern as they arise,” said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “MTPC is grateful to DESE for issuing such practical guidance and identifying the steps that schools can take to create a safer and more welcoming environment for transgender youth in our Commonwealth’s schools.”

Among the areas that the guidelines address are:

  • The proper use of names and pronouns for transgender students
  • Privacy and confidentiality policies for transgender students
  • Appropriate names and gender markers on student records, including diplomas
  • Appropriate access to restrooms and locker rooms
  • Physical education and athletic participation
  • Education and training for teachers about transgender students

“Transgender students, like all students, need a school environment where they are treated fairly and respectfully so that they can focus on getting the education that they need and deserve,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, the executive director of Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth (BAGLY). “The DESE guidance gives our public schools the tools to create just that environment.”

“We commend the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the speedy release of guidance that spells out in no uncertain terms the protections assured to transgender and gender nonconforming students in Massachusetts,” said Julian Cyr, chair of the Mass. Commission for GLBT Youth. “Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, state agencies continue to close gaps in service delivery and education policy that persist for LGBT youth in the Commonwealth. This guidance is an important step toward leveling the playing field for transgender students.”

“This guidance from DESE is going to make an immediate difference in the lives of transgender students, who desperately need protection and leadership from our schools,” said Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality. “We appreciate DESE’s role in making sure that transgender students across our Commonwealth have the same educational opportunities that all students in our public schools enjoy.”

“As a former high school teacher, I know the vast majority of educators are well-intentioned and want to create a climate of respect and safety so that all of their students can reach their full potential,” said Arthur Lipkin, who spent 20 years teaching in Cambridge’s school system. “As a long-serving member of the Mass. Commission for GLBT Youth, I also know that there is a learning curve on the part of many educators on transgender issues. The guidance gives them important tools to provide properly for the safety and educational needs of transgender students, and I commend DESE for its leadership in creating it. Of course, the results will depend on the resources made available to schools for technical assistance and training. We need to be vigilant and constructive.”

The Transgender Equal Rights Law, officially titled “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick in November 2011. It took effect in July 2012. The law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing, credit, and education. It also amended the state’s definition of a hate crime to include crimes motivated by prejudice against a person’s gender identity.

You can read the guidelines here.


Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.

Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. 




MTPC Announces Leadership Change

gunnerscott headshotGunner Scott, a founding member of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition since 2008, will be leaving his position as MTPC executive director at the end of February to pursue other opportunities.

“We are enormously grateful to Gunner for the tremendous work he has done on behalf of transgender youth, adults, our families and the community in Massachusetts. We’re all very sorry to see him go, and we’re also looking forward to building further on our collective vision for this organization and our community,” said MTPC steering committee chair Nancy Nangeroni.

“I have been so privileged and honored to have been able to work with amazing people during my time at MTPC,” said Scott. “We have such dedication among our steering committee, staff, volunteers and in the broader community of transgender youth, adults, their families and our allies. Knowing that I’ve been supported in my advocacy for my community has made this work so meaningful for me, and I leave MTPC being proud of the work that we have done.”

“I want to thank all those that have put their trust into sharing their stories with me, whether toward passing legislation or just talking about their experiences. I look forward to seeing the next chapter of MTPC unfold, and I am confident that the organization will continue to grow stronger,” Scott said.

Current MTPC community organizer Jesse Begenyi, who has been working alongside Scott since 2009, will serve as MTPC’s interim director while the steering committee undertakes a careful process to identify and hire a new permanent executive director. MTPC will engage in an assessment process that will help to reflect on the organization’s progress, plan for the leadership transition and set the strategic direction. The search for a new director will begin in the next couple of months with a formal job announcement. Third Sector New England will be providing organizational expertise throughout the transition, through a grant from the Boston Foundation Vision Fund.

Steering Committee Vice Chair Maxwell Ng said, “Gunner Scott and MTPC have made it safer for me to live and work in Massachusetts. I know the steering committee is firmly committed to its mission as well as to the community that MTPC has fostered. The foundation already laid inspires me to look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.”

A public gathering to honor Gunner Scott for his work will be held Friday, February 22 at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, from 6:30 to 9 pm. 

For more information, email


Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c) 3 that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public, advocates with state, local, and federal government, engages in political activism, and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. More information can be found at


MTPC Hosts Legislative Action Day for Transgender Public Accommodations Protections on Jan. 17, 2013

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is hosting a Legislative Action Day at the State House January 17 from 11 am to 1 pm. Constituents will gather to educate their legislators about the necessity of protecting transgender people’s access to public accommodations through the passage of An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public.

The Equal Access Bill would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations, which currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and marital status. Nationwide, 15 states, the District of Columbia and 187 cities and counties (including Boston, Cambridge, Amherst and Northampton) have passed non-discrimination laws or ordinances protecting people on this basis.

Public accommodations include any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. Examples of accommodations are banks, gas stations, beauty salons, funeral parlors and employment agencies; offices of professionals such as doctors, attorneys, dentists, accountants, travel agents and insurance agents; court rooms, lobbies, polling places and government agencies; hotels, restaurants and bars; shopping centers; theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and convention centers; museums, libraries and galleries; parks, zoos, amusement parks and beaches; public transit and airports; and public streets and sidewalks.

MTPC’s Executive Director, Gunner Scott, said, “Public accommodations protections would make explicit the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing people of all gender identities equal protection under the law, and guarantee transgender youth, adults, and families the opportunity to participate in and contribute to their communities and to the local economy. This bill is about fairness and all residents having the same access to public places.”

According to a recent transgender discrimination survey, 58% of Massachusetts respondents experienced verbal harassment or mistreatment in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies because they are transgender; 22% of transgender adults were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official; and 24% of transgender adults who interacted with police experienced harassment by officers.

“I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the 2011 passage of An Act Relative to Gender Identity, which adds gender identity non-discrimination protections in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending. The Equal Access Bill fills in that missing piece of public accommodations, which are all the places between home, work or school. This is necessary for full equality all transgender youth, adults, and families in Massachusetts,” said Nancy Nangeroni, chair of MTPC’s board.



MTPC Ranked #5 in GuideStar’s High-Impact Local LGBT Nonprofits

guide star largeIn December 2012, we were honored to learn that a group of 110 experts identified Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition as 1 of 12 high-impact nonprofits working in the field local LGBT equaity and support. Some of reviews experts had about our impact were:

“This is still a very small organization, but it has had good, consistent leadership. Also, the organization has done some very innovative public education work.

“Their impact can be see in the passage of the Transgender Rights Bill 2011.”

“They are playing a key role in adding gender identity to statewide nondiscrimination law. They are also developing the “I AM” messaging campaign to raise profile of transgender community.”

To read more about experts in the field have to say about Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition click on the Expert Reviews section on our organization profile

Philanthropedia (at GuideStar) is a nonprofit organization working to help donors make smarter donations by connecting them with some of the highest impact nonprofits in a cause. They are different from other online rating sites or donation sites because they use experts to identify high-impact nonprofits.

All the information collected from the research is available on Philanthropedia’s website and will shortly be available on GuideStar Take Action’s website.

In addition, MTPC’s big sister organization and our fiscal sponsor, Boston Alliance for GLBT Youth (BAGLY Inc) was ranked # 1 in the same category. As you can see the apple does not fall far from the tree! MTPC also wished to congratulate trans-sister organizations the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Transgender Law Center (TLC), and our Trans Equal Rights Coalition partner organizations Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and MassEquality for their recognition in high impact LGBT non-profits rankings as well.


Statement on International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers

More than 50 U.S. LGBTQ and allied organizations from around the country, including MTPC, released the following statement marking the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers and voicing their support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.

December 17, 2012

The undersigned lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two Spirit and allied organizations mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers by calling for support for efforts worldwide to defend the lives and rights of all people involved in the sex trades.

We recognize that systemic homophobia, transphobia and racism, disproportionate poverty and homelessness, widespread discrimination, and an absence of pathways to immigration status, frequently limit the economic and survival options of LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth and adults of color and transgender people. These conditions not only inform and can contribute to the involvement of LGBTQ people in the sex trades, whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion  – they also increase the vulnerability to violence and abuse against LGBTQ people in the sex trades.

We recognize that, of the many LGBTQ people who are victims of hate violence each year, many are — or are perceived to be — involved in the sex trades. Many are targeted for violence in part for this reason.

Just one month ago we observed the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we commemorate the lives of transgender people who have been targeted for violence. Many of the people we remember today — those lost to violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades — are the same individuals we remembered on November 20.

We recognize that all too often police and other officials abuse both LGBTQ people and people who are or are perceived to be involved in the sex trades. LGBTQ people involved in the sex trades are among those most at risk of violence, yet often face indifference when reporting violence. We recognize that profiling of LGBTQ youth of color and transgender people for prostitution-related offenses remains pervasive in many communities and harms all LGBTQ people, exposing us to violence at the hands of police, prison officials, and immigration authorities.

We recognize that the voices and visions of LGBTQ people who are or have been sex workers or involved in the sex trades have historically been — and continue to be — at the forefront of movements for LGBTQ equality and freedom worldwide, and must play a leadership role in informing our responses to violence against people in the sex trades.

We recognize that policy approaches focused on increasing safety, opportunity, empowerment, and harm reduction, and which focus on meeting basic needs for housing, living wage employment, and health care through voluntary, LGBTQ-affirming and non-judgmental services are essential to ending violence against people involved in the sex trades. We believe that harsh punitive approaches only increase vulnerability to violence among those they seek to protect.

We recognize that violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades is an LGBTQ issue, and we stand committed to ending it.

Signing Organizations
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MTPC Meets with White House Staff to Mark TDOR

Transgender leaders and allies meeting with John Berry, director of the US Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking openly gay person in President Obama’s administration.

On November 20, 2012, MTPC Executive Director Gunner Scott and forty leaders from state, local, national and international transgender organizations met with John Berry, director of the US Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking openly gay person in President Barack Obama’s administration. The meeting also included Gautam Raghavan, associate director in the Office of Public Engagement, and other White House staff. This historic meeting was to mark the Fourteenth Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and to discuss ways in which the president’s administration, transgender leaders and allies can work together to ensure dignity, equality and justice for transgender youth, adults and our families.

In his first term, the Obama administration has been enacting positive policy changes including a sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination employment policy for the president’s administration; appointing four talented, openly transgender people; adding sexual-orientation and gender-identity non-discrimination provisions for federal employees and HUD-funded housing programs; and issuing new rules for passport gender-marker changes. In addition, in May 2011 the Office of Personnel Management issued guidance regarding transgender employees in the federal workplace.

“I felt very honored to be included in this meeting with the Obama administration and with other state, national and international transgender leaders,” said Gunner Scott, MTPC’s executive director. “We each addressed issues that are concerning to the transgender communities and provided possible solutions. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak on the impact of homelessness on our transgender youth, adults and families and to bring that message to the administration.”

The meeting opened with Berry leading a moment of silence in remembrance of the transgender women and men who have been victims of violence over the past year. The meeting closed with White House staff reaffirming President Obama’s commitment to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community.

See the White House press release about this meeting: