BOSTON, Mass.—While Massachusetts has good legal protections for its LGBTQ students; few students know their legal rights or how to exercise them in school. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and BAGLY: The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth have moved to in to fill that gap with a collaboration, the “Got Rights Project”, which they are rolling out this month across the state.
Prompted by the passage of the Massachusetts anti-bullying law in 2010, the two groups started working together to create written and other materials to inform and empower Massachusetts students. The materials include wristbands, bookmarks, brochures, and a video. The centerpiece of the collaboration is an interactive workshop that is being presented around the state.
“Knowing your rights is the first step to empowering yourself,” said GLAD Senior Staff Attorney Vickie Henry. “But the law can be off-putting and intimidating. We wanted to get this critical information to young people in way that is fun, engaging, and memorable.” GLAD encourages youth who are having legal problems to contact the GLAD InfoLine at 800-455-GLAD (4523), or at www.glad.org/got-lgbtq-rights.
“LGBTQ youth disproportionately experience discrimination, harassment and violence in and out of school settings”, said Jessica Flaherty, Director of Programs for BAGLY. “Also, systemic homo/bi/transphobia blocks access to much needed accurate legal information and support. The Got Rights Project offers LGBTQ youth opportunities to gain or increase an understanding of their legal rights and puts them in direct contact with the legal services at GLAD.”
The video “Got LGBTQ Rights?” which is shown as part of the workshop, was co-produced by GLAD and True Colors, the Theater Offensive’s youth theater group. It features many BAGLY youth and can be viewed at www.glad.org/got-lgbtq-rights.
The workshop will be presented across the state throughout the month of May (in Worcester, Pittsfield, Salem, Hyannis, and Holyoke), co-facilitated by a GLAD lawyer and two BAGLY youth.
The workshops will be held in the following dates and at the following places:
- May 16, at 5:00 p.m. in Worcester at the meeting of SWAGLY (Supporters of Worcester Area Gay and Lesbian Youth),
- May 17, at 3:00 p.m. in Pittsfield at the Live Out Loud Youth Project,
- May 22, at 7:00 p.m. in Salem at the meeting of NAGLY (North Shore Alliance Gay and Lesbian Youth),
- May 23, at 6:00 p.m. in Hyannis at the meeting of CIGSYA (Cape and Islands Gay & Straight Youth Alliance), and
- May 26, at 11:00 a.m. in Holyoke at the Conference of Tolerance and Acceptance. Registration is required. To register in Holyoke contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workshops are open to any youth who would like to attend; for more information contact Jessica Flaherty at email@example.com. Those who are interested in scheduling a workshop for their own youth group, conference, or school group can contact Maryse Pearce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.
Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth is a youth led, adult supported social support organization, committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies and services for the LGBTQ youth community.