The Scoop from the States, 1st Week of June

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Thumbs-UpMassachusettsAccording to WCVB News, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday, protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations in the state. Massachusetts already has had protections against employment and housing discrimination since 2011, but public accommodation protections were left out of that law out of concern over the possibility of bathroom issues. The state senate had already passed a similar bill on May 12. There had been a great deal of speculation as to whether Governor Charlie Baker would sign the bill, but on Tuesday he indicated that language in the house bill that was absent from the senate bill allowed him to feel comfortable signing it. The additional language gives the state attorney general responsibility for “referring to the appropriate law enforcement agency or other authority for legal action any person who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.” The law passed on a 116-36 vote.

Thumbs-UpVirginia – The 4th United States Circuit Court of Appeals let stand the April ruling in the Gavin Grimm case by the three judge panel who found that Grimm had a right to use male restroom facilities. He had sued the Gloucester County School Board for refusing to allow Grimm, a transgender male, to use the restroom that corresponds to his gender identity. With one dissent, the full court declined to review the case, meaning that the ruling will stand unless it is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court. Unless there are conflicting rulings from other courts in the future, that appears to be unlikely.

Thumbs-DownAlabama Alabamanews.net reports that state Attorney General Luther Strange has asked state public schools to ignore the Obama administration’s guidelines on protecting the rights of transgender students. He issued an opinion that the administration cannot make good on their threat to pull money from the state schools, and that the guidelines are not lawful. This means that school systems are free to set their own guidelines on how to treat transgender students.

Thumbs-DownTexas ABC News reports that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick also called on Texas schools to ignore the Obama administration’s guidelines. His statement on the subject make it clear he does not accept transgender identities. “Transgender students deserve the rights of anyone else. It does not mean they get to use the girls’ room if they’re a boy,” he is reported as saying. Like the Alabama ruling, Patrick’s pronouncement leaves the fate of transgender students to their local school systems.

Thumbs-UpNebraska – By a 3-3 vote, the Nebraska state Board of Education was unable to pass a resolution allowing state public schools to ignore the Obama administration transgender rights guidelines, according to WOWT News. The motion had been introduced by board member Patrick McPherson who was unable to gather enough votes for passage.

Question-MarkKansas – Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that Kansas will sue the Obama administration over the controversial guidelines on transgender students, the Washington Post reports. The move echoes that of a number of other states who have joined together on a similar lawsuit. It is unclear whether Kansas will join the suit or file their own action.

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About Author

Suzi Chase writes about transgender issues through both fiction and non-fiction. She has had careers in teaching and software engineering and has raised two children.

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