Reporting Bobby Sisk
MEDFORD (CBS) – Schools across Massachusetts are facing new guidelines regarding students and gender identity. “I had all of these problems and everyone kept telling me that they couldn’t help me,” said Logan Ferarro, now on staff at BAGLY, Inc., The Boston Alliance of Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Youth. Logan transitioned from female to male as a senior in High School in Wilmington.
“It ended up being harder than it was because they had no idea what to prepare for they had no idea what was coming,” said Logan. “They had no idea what even transgender was.”
Last summer, Logan and other supporters applauded a change in state law which added nondiscrimination in schools based on gender identity. That led to a recent memo from Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester offering guidance on what the changes mean. In it, schools are required to accept the gender a student recognizes as their own including bathroom and locker room access.
“We wanted to come up with something that would best address their needs and their safety needs and affirming their identities,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, BAGLY, Inc.’s Executive Director and a transgender woman. She attended meetings on the changes last year. “It is important to make sure that the message here is that we are trying to do what’s best for transgendered students who themselves are the most unsafe and the ones who are most at risk,” she said.
“I think there is a big difference between safety and comfort and safety needs to be the priority,” she said of people who might be uncomfortable with a male student who identifies as a female using the female restroom.