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SAFE ZONE

Image by jhenning from Pixabay 

LGTBQ+ crisis line
866-488-7386

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Call 988 when experiencing emotional/mental crisis rather than calling 911 for the Police
 
Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860 

Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer support phone service run by trans people for trans and questioning peers. 

If you have a child who is failing to make progress in school due to anxiety, depression, bullying, cyberbullying, or harassment in connection with being part of the LGBTQ+ family, your child may be entitled to accommodations and/or support services.  My pronouns are she/her/hers, and I'd like to help.

Data from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation - as seen below - reflect the difference between what daily issues and subjects most LBGTQ+ teens struggle with compared with what
most non-LBGTQ+ teens struggle with. 

Words matter. What we say matters.

 

The following definitions are from Gender Spectrum. These are only some of the terms from an ever-growing vocabulary.

Agender – A person who sees themself as not having a gender. Some agender-identified people see themself as being gender neutral, rather than not having any gender, but in any case do not identify with a gender.

Cisgender – Refers to people whose Gender identity aligns with their assigned sex at birth (cis- from Latin, meaning, “on this side [of].” In contrast to trans, from the Latin root meaning “across,” “beyond,” or “on the opposite side [of]”).

Closeted – A term used to describe an LGBTQ+ person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gender Binary – A system that constructs gender according to two discrete and opposite categories: boy/man and girl/woman. It is important to recognize that both cisgender and Transgender people can have a gender identity that is binary.

Gender Dysphoria Gender dysphoria is when someone feels very unhappy, uneasy, or dissatisfied in relation to their gender. This is something many people experience, including feeling a tension between how someone feels about their body compared to how society genders their body, or a conflict between how someone sees themselves in contrast with expected gender roles or expectations. It is also a clinical term and is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly referred to as the DSM, or DSM–5). The labeling of gender dysphoria as a disorder or condition has been controversial, but it is helpful to understand the term’s clinical definition and use if you are considering support from a mental health professional.

Gender Expression – This is our “public” gender. How we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender. Gender expression is also related to gender roles and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

Genderfluid – People who have a gender or genders that change. Genderfluid people move between genders, experiencing their gender as something dynamic and changing, rather than static.

Gender identity – our deeply held, internal sense of self as masculine, feminine, a blend of both, neither, or something else. Identity also includes the name we use to convey our gender. Gender identity can correspond to, or differ from the sex we are assigned at birth. The language a person uses to communicate their gender identity can evolve and shift over time, especially as someone gains access to a broader gender vocabulary.

Genderqueer – An umbrella term to describe someone who doesn’t identify with conventional gender identities, roles, expression and/or expectations. For some, genderqueer is a Non-binary identification, and for others it is not.

Non-binary – An umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.

Queer – Often used by younger individuals who feel limited by the terms gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It has also be used in LGBT as Q for gender Questioning.

 

Sex – Used to label a person as “male” or “female” (some US states and other countries offer a third option) at birth, this term refers to a person’s external genitalia and internal reproductive organs. When a person is assigned a particular sex at birth, it is often mistakenly assumed that this will equate with their gender; it might, but it might not.

Sexual Orientation – Our sexual orientation and our gender are separate, though related, parts of our overall identity. Gender is personal (how we each see ourselves), while sexual orientation is interpersonal (who we are physically, emotionally and/or romantically attracted to).

Transgender – Sometimes this term is used broadly as an umbrella term to describe anyone whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex. It can also be used more narrowly as a gender identity that reflects a binary gender identity that is “opposite” or “across from” the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transphobia – Fear, dislike of, and/or prejudice against transgender people.

Transsexual This is an out-dated term, considered offensive by many people. Unlike the term transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender.

Two-Spirit A term created by First Nations/Native American/Indigenous peoples whose sexual orientation and/or gender/sex exists in ways that challenge colonial constructions of a gender binary. This term should not be appropriated to describe people who are not First Nations/Native American/Indigenous members.*

Again, the LGBTQ+ "language" is ever-changing. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and GLAAD have provided the following examples of Outdated Off-Putting Language versus Current Best Practice Language

 

TERMS TO AVOID V. BEST PRACTICE

Homosexual v. Gay or Lesbian

Sexual Preference v. Sexual Orientation

Lifestyle v. Orientation or Identity

Gay Lifestyle/Lesbian Lifestyle/Transgender Lifestyle/LGBTQ+ Lifestyle v. LGBTQ+ People and Their Lives

Alternative Family v. LGBTQ+ Family

Gay Rights v. Equality for LGBTQ+ People

Biologically Male/Biologically Female v. Assigned or Designated Male at Birth/Assigned or Designated Female at Birth

Transgender Individual v. Transgender Person

Identifies as a Male or Identifies as a Female v. Is a Transgender Boy/Man or Is a Transgender Girl/Woman

What Are Your Preferred Pronouns? v. What Pronouns Do You Use/What Are Your Pronouns?

* Definition from The Trevor Project

Line of Colored Pencils
Are LGBTQ+ Students Protected Under Federal and State Law?

The Office of Civil Rights said Yes! Then, said No ...

Notwithstanding the rights afforded to all students and individuals under the Constitution and the protections against bullying and harassment, the road to protection under the federal and state law for "gender identity" has been slow and filled with its share of green lights and red lights.

 

For example, on February 22, 2017, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education withdrew the previous Administration's May 13, 2016 broad and generous policies and protections for LGBTQ students.  Given the debates (e.g. transgender bathroom access) that have grown throughout the states, OCR unfortunately decided that the policies concerning LGTBQ students should be left to the states and local districts to craft.

Massachusetts said Yes!

Massachusetts enacted a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This law was An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011), which became effective on July 1, 2012 (Act)For further guidance from DESE and supporting laws, click here.

The Federal Court in the 4th District just said Yes!

On August 26, 2020, the Grimm v. Gloucester County Sch. Bd. landmark case was decided. It supports the argument that discrimination against a student for being transgender is a violation of his 14th Amendment rights and Title IX.  The Judge stated, “At the heart of this appeal is whether equal protection and Title IX can protect transgender students from school bathroom policies that prohibit them from affirming their gender. We join a growing consensus of courts in holding that the answer is resoundingly yes.” The Judge added, “We have little difficulty holding that a bathroom policy precluding Grimm from using the boys restrooms discriminated against him ‘on the basis of sex.’” “We are left without doubt that the Board acted to protect cisgender boys from Gavin’s mere presence — a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life.” “How shallow a promise of equal protection that would not protect Grimm from the fantastical fears and unfounded prejudices of his adult community. It is time to move forward.” 

On February 19, 2021, a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari was filed by Gloucester County School Board. On June 28, 2021, the Supreme Court declined the Petition. (Noted on the docket, "Justice Thomas and Justice Alito would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari.") The ruling in the lower court stands. 

"Transgender College Students Face Enormous Mental Health Disparities"

An August 16, 2019, article in BU School of Public Health published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine uncovered alarming statistics about the mental health disparities between gender-minority students and cisgender students.

"School of Public Health researchers and collaborators found that gender-minority students (those whose genders differ from the genders assigned them at birth) are between two and four times more likely to experience mental health problems than the rest of their peers."

Click here to read the full article.

drugwatch.com has published a health guide for LGBTQ+ individuals that covers various health concerns and ways to find help
https://www.drugwatch.com/health/lgbtq/

As a parent or legal guardian of a transgender child/minor, what steps must you take to legally change his/her/their name in Massachusetts?

You must file an "Assent to Petition to Change Name of Minor" (if you agree to change the name) or "Petition for Change of Name" with the Probate and Family Court in the county where the minor resides in accordance with MGL c. 210, § 12-13. For information on changing Birth Certificates, Social Security ID, and Driver's Licenses for transgender individuals, click here.

However, according to DESE, Massachusetts' law recognizes common law name changes.

For example, for a male transgender student who identifies as female, a school may adopt a "chosen" name that is different from the name that appears on the student's birth certificate. Nothing more formal than usage is required. When requested, schools should accurately record the student's "chosen" name on all records.

All school personnel should use the student's "chosen" name and pronouns. For students who undergo gender transition during a school year, it is important to develop a plan to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for the student while maintaining the student's privacy.

Resources for LGBTQ Community

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