The Massachusetts Legislature is now in the 191st General Court, a new legislative session as of January 2019, which means Representative Kay Khan has filed new and old legislation. Below are just a couple legislative priorities. Stay tuned for more updates!
Banning Conversion Therapy
H.140, An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors would prohibit state licensed mental health professionals from subjecting children to conversion therapy practices in an attempt to change sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Instead of proving to be a helpful resource for minors to cope with questions and insecurities regarding gender and sexuality, those subjected to the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy are at high risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality.
H.1478, An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts would address the shocking ability of children to marry in the Commonwealth.
Nearly 1,200 children as young as 14 were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2014, 84 percent (1000) of which were girls wed to adult men. The oldest person during this time period to marry a minor was a 39-year-old man who married a 17-year-old girl in 2014. Child Early & Forced Marriage (CEFM) victims are very difficult to identify and many victims do not come forward due to pressure from family or their soon to be spouse. Forced marriage victims experience significantly high rates of sexual abuse, economic threats and isolation. Additionally, married minors do not have adult legal rights and the minor may not be able to easily secure financial or legal assistance to leave a marriage.
Our current statutes permit child marriage with the consent of a parent and an approval from a judge in the Probate and Family Court. Presently judges do not have guidelines for presiding over these unique cases nor do they interview the minor privately to ensure coercion is not in play. By eliminating marriage for those under the age of 18, these bills would eliminate the threat of a minor being forced or coerced into a marriage.
H.3066, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families would eliminate a lack of access to state ID’s that negatively impact the lives of adults and young people who are homeless. This is especially true for homeless LGBTQ youth who are 22% of homeless youth though they comprise approximately 10% of the state’s population.
Many of the problems faced by individuals experiencing homelessness who do not have identification include finding employment, picking up packages at the Post Office, obtaining a library card, applying for financial aid and educational opportunities, entering certain government buildings, opening a checking account and accessing services. As you may know, a number of government buildings near the State House have increased their security measures and require identification to enter.