MassEquality News (January 5, 2017)
January 5, 2017
New Year, New Beginnings
January marks the beginning of a new year and a new legislative session in Massachusetts. Yesterday, two more openly gay members of the Massachusetts legislature were sworn in, and the total number of LGBTQ champions in the State House has grown following the November election. But that doesn't mean we can be complacent and assume that LGBTQ rights and legal protections are assured.
MassEquality plans to tackle a number of important issues and support critical legislation in the coming year. Our priorities include:
- Fighting to end the use of conversion therapy to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors in Massachusetts
- Opposing right-wing attempts to weaken or repeal existing LGBTQ rights laws, especially those protecting transgender people
- Ensuring that Massachusetts students receive accurate, age-appropriate and comprehensive health education in public schools
- Working to ensure that all LGBTQ elders can age with dignity and respect, and receive appropriate and culturally competent care
- Advocating to restore funding for LGBTQ youth and elders and HIV/AIDS services
- And much more!
Check out our updated 2017 Champions Agenda for more information about MassEquality's priority bills and issues.
[Photo Credit: Hsin Ju HSU, Wikimedia Commons, cc-by-sa-3.0]
Help Us Make "Conversion Therapy" History—Take Action Today!
Conversion therapy is a term for any practice that attempts to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Commonly used conversion therapy tactics include shaming in order to instill self-loathing, aversive conditioning by inducing nausea or administering electric shocks, and using hypnosis to impose a change in identity. To date, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, Vermont and Washington, DC have passed laws banning conversion therapy.
A New Jersey jury has ruled that claims of conversion therapy's effectiveness in changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity constitute consumer fraud. In addition, dozens of national and international medical, mental health, education and human rights organizations have condemned the practice. Despite this, 45 states—including Massachusetts—have yet to ban conversion therapy. But with your help, that can change in 2017.
Representative Kay Khan and Senator Mark Montigny are filing An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors, also known as the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill, for the 2017 legislative session. This bill would prohibit state-licensed mental health professionals from engaging in deceptive practices aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
You can help the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill gain important early support by urging your state legislators to sign on as co-sponsors once the bill is filed. The more co-sponsors a bill has, the more likely it is to get a hearing and come up for a vote during the current session. Senators as well as Representatives can co-sponsor this bill. The sooner you contact your legislators, the better.
Don't know who your state legislators are? Visit wheredoivotema.com and enter your street address to find their names and contact information. Then call your legislator's office, and urge them to co-sponsor the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill. Download our Fact Sheet on the bill (PDF file) to learn more and find helpful talking points to use in your phone call. If you prefer to write to your legislators, you can download a sample letter (Word file) that you can customize with your name and your legislator's contact information.
Thank you for taking action in support of the Conversion Therapy Ban Bill! Together, we will make sure that LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts no longer face these dangerous and abusive practices. And please share this email with your friends—the more people who reach out to our elected state officials about this bill, the more likely they will be to co-sponsor and support it.
In this uncertain national political climate, it is essential that we here in Massachusetts proactively pass legislation that protects and expands access to sexual and reproductive health care. The LGBTQ community is particularly affected by the lack of accurate and comprehensive sexual health information and barriers to accessing appropriate care. Together, we must ensure that all Massachusetts residents, especially young people, have the ability to access the health care and education they need to stay safe and healthy.
That’s why a coalition of over 30 organizations, including MassEquality, will hold a Sexual Health Lobby Day on Tuesday, January 31st—and we need you to join us, meet with your state legislators, and advocate for birth control access, comprehensive sex education, and confidential health care.
We hope to see you there!
Trans and Queer Liberation Rally
MassEquality is proud to co-sponsor this event on Saturday, January 14th from 2:00-5:00 pm at the Massachusetts State House. Join us and members of the trans and queer communities and allies/accomplices for a rally in front of the State House in support of transgender, queer and POC rights, and against policies and laws that threaten our people and communities. For more information, visit the rally's Facebook Event page.
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