Resources for Educators

Making the Law Work in your School

We need to inform all students attending the more than 300 public high schools in Massachusetts that it is illegal to discriminate against gay and lesbian students.

Educating students and faculty about the existence of the law and about the rights it guarantees can help create a more supportive and accepting atmosphere in our public schools for all youth.

Student Handbook and School Policies on Harassment and Discrimination

An essential way to implement and publicize the law is to use it as a powerful tool to ensure that the language in the student handbook in your school reflects the reality of the law. School policies concerning harassment and discrimination exist in all schools. Gay and lesbian students must be included in these policies to be consistent with Massachusetts law.

If your student handbook is inconsistent with the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Law, set up a meeting with your school principal to discuss changing the language. When the handbook and policies are changed, ask your principal to publicize the changes so that all students and faculty know about the law.

Posters, Flyers, and Copies of the Law

Displaying a poster on a school bulletin board will ensure that hundreds of students will learn about the law.Under the provisions of the law, you have the right to display a poster, as long as you follow the standard procedure for use of school bulletin boards and displays.

You can design your own flyer about the law using the language of the law and other materials.Mass produced flyers can be distributed in faculty mailboxes and handed out in homerooms, school clubs, and at school dances.

Handing out copies of the actual bill that the Governor signed is an excellent way of bringing the law to the attention of students in your school. A copy of the signed bill could also be reproduced in student publications.

Other Suggestions

  • Have a Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day/Week to promote understanding of gay and lesbian student rights.

  • Invite a speaker to your school to talk about the law at a school assembly or forum. Speakers could be from the Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth or the Department of Education.

  • Write an article about the law for your student newspaper, school yearbook, or your town newspaper.

  • Work with students on projects about student rights in general, including rights for gay and lesbian youth.

Safe Spaces for GLBT Youth Program at MA DPH

Working with the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, the MA Department of Public Health supports education and outreach efforts to reduce the incidence of suicide among and violence against GLBT youth, while also addressing a range of other critical public health issues that affect this population. The program provides funding for community based agencies and works in collaboration with the MA Department of Education's Safe Schools program and with other State agencies.

Steven Smyth
Program Director
Safe Spaces for GLBTQ Youth
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Division of Violence and Injury Prevention
250 Washington St. - 4th floor
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 624-5490