GOVERNOR PATRICK RELEASES "IT GETS BETTER" MESSAGE TO OFFER SUPPORT TO YOUNG PEOPLE ACROSS MASSACHUSETTS
BOSTON - Friday, August 5, 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick today released an "It Gets Better" video message to offer hope and encouragement for young people across the Commonwealth who have been bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"I know what it's like to be different, believe me," said Governor Patrick in his message. "Whether it was in school or in my law firms, in different types of jobs in all kinds of settings -- even as the first black governor of Massachusetts -- I know what it's like to be different and to have folks sometimes around you who don't understand. But I want you to know there are also people around you who do understand, who care about you, who encourage you. That has been my experience in every single one of those settings, and it will be your experience too. You need to know, it gets better."
Governor Patrick has been a national leader in human rights and LGBT equality. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to allow same sex marriages, when the Marriage Equality Act was signed in 2004, and Governor Patrick has worked to protect and advance marriage equality in the Commonwealth and across the nation. In his first year in office, Governor Patrick signed a bill to repeal legislation that had banned out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts. He also signed the MassHealth equality bill, which grants married same-sex couples in Massachusetts equal access to Medicaid benefits.
In February, Governor Patrick issued Executive Order 526 banning discrimination against transgender state employees. Under the Executive Order, each Secretariat is tasked with developing and implementing affirmative action and diversity plans to identify and eliminate discriminatory barriers in the workplace; remedy the effects of past discriminatory practices; identify, recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain employees who are members of under-represented groups; and ensure diversity and equal opportunity in state employment. These plans are developed by each Secretariat's Diversity Director and each Agency's Diversity Officer and approved by the agency head. In addition, the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, with support and assistance from the Office of Access and Opportunity, works with the Secretariats and Agencies to ensure overall compliance with maintains overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the executive order and applicable federal and state laws.
Last year, Governor Patrick signed his comprehensive anti-bullying law that employs new strategies for adults, new supports for students and better communications among state agencies to prevent, report and effectively address issues related to bullying. The law also helps prevent bulling or harassment due to sexual orientation or gender identity. The law includes reporting requirements for all school staff to fully and swiftly detail any instance of bullying or retaliation to the appropriate school official. Additionally, the law establishes statewide academic standards that include instruction in bullying prevention and requires schools statewide to provide age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention. Governor Patrick firmly believes that every young person deserves to feel safe in their own school and have access to the resources they need to flourish and grow. This new law gives our teachers, parents and kids the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential.
To learn more about the "It Gets Better Project" click here.