June is upon us so I want to wish my constituents and everyone across the Commonwealth a very happy Pride Month!
Massachusetts has a long history of supporting Queer folks as the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. We've also advanced key LGBTQ+ policy items while I've been in the House. Recently, the House increased access to youth HIV prevention. We also passed a ban on conversion therapy for minors, passed first-in-the-nation legislation requiring licensed elder service providers to complete comprehensive LGBTQ+ care training, and secured a nonbinary gender marker on state licenses and IDs.
Despite this progress, there is much more work ahead to ensure justice for Queer Bay Staters, especially in light of reactionary lawmakers from across this country assaulting LGBTQ+ rights. In addition to working on the below legislative agenda I have been advocating to the Speaker's office that Massachusetts join efforts to enact trans refugee laws.
S.1404/H.2349 - An Act relative to HIV prevention access for young adults filed by Senator Julian Cyr and Representatives Jack Lewis and Chynah Tyler
Current statute permits minors to consent to healthcare for many stigmatized services including treatment of STIs & HIV, but not prevention services such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). This bill adds prevention services to the healthcare minors may consent to without parental permission, removing a significant barrier to critical care. In July of 2018, the FDA approved the use of PrEP for minors and recommended its use for those at risk of HIV infection.
S.1272/H.2088 - An Act relative to preventing overdose deaths and increasing access to treatment filed by Senator Julian Cyr and Representatives Dylan Fernandes and Marjorie Decker
A supervised consumption space (SCS) program provides a space for people who use drugs to consume pre–obtained drugs under the supervision of healthcare professionals or other trained staff and may provide other related services including but not limited to needle exchange, overdose prevention, and referrals to treatment and other services.
S.318/H.673 - An Act relative to healthy youth filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representatives James O’Day and Vanna Howard
Currently there are no uniform standards for sexual health education in Massachusetts and many students are never educated about sexual health and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This bill requires each school district or public school that offers sexual health education to provide medically accurate and LGBTQ+ inclusive education including healthy relationships, consent, contraceptive use, and sexually transmitted infections.
S.405/H.752 - An Act relative to Massachusetts home care eligibility filed by Senator Patricia Jehlen and Representative Sarah Peake
As people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are living longer and aging, some are also experiencing early onset of age-related illness and impairment. The bill would expand access to homecare services before the age of 60 to address health needs of long term survivors.
S.1566/H.2484 - An Act to promote rehabilitation including guaranteed health, treatment, and safety for incarcerated LGBTQI+ People filed by Senator Julian Cyr and Representative Jack Lewis
Unfortunately, homophobic and transphobic violence is deeply embedded within the culture of incarceration. This bill seeks to reduce that harm by ensuring LGBTQI+ people have the right to safety, transparency, access to HIV prevention and treatment, and affirming programming. Additionally, this bill seeks to minimize the inappropriate and disproportionate use of solitary confinement for LGBTQI+ people.
S.142/H.264 - An Act providing a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness filed by Senator Rebecca Rausch and Representative Smitty Pignatelli
People experiencing homelessness often are subjected to discrimination and mistreatment based on their housing status. The bill of rights is a guide for state and local officials emphasizing that people experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts: the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to equal treatment by municipal agencies (such as police departments), freedom from discrimination in employment, the right to emergency medical care, the right to register to vote and to vote, freedom from disclosure of records, and the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of property.
S.2276/H.3515 An Act to provide identification to youth and adults experiencing homelessness filed by Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Kay Khan
Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities. This bill calls on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to waive the $25 fee for Mass IDs for applicants who are experiencing homelessness, and to accept alternative verifications of Massachusetts residency from state agencies and social service agencies.
S.1552/H.2519 An Act to Create Alternatives for Community Emergency Services (ACES) filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Lindsay N. Sabadosa
Law enforcement officers have become the default first responders when someone is in crisis, which disproportionately and too often violently affects communities of color. Emergency calls related to mental health, substance use, or lack of housing and health care can be resolved without law enforcement, connecting individuals to service and support. The ACES Act creates a grant program to provide a community based alternative to law enforcement through the Department of Public Health.
In addition to the above bills I will continue work to advance the policy recommendations of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Youth Commission which can be found here in their 2022 Annual Report.
Is there a bill missing from the list or an issue of LGBTQ+ policy you want to discuss? Email me at [email protected] or call (617) 722-2060 to chat. Thank you!