Gender and Equality Legislation
Representative Khan and advocacy group, Unchained At Last,
protesting child marriage and fighting for women and girls
in a press conference on the State House steps in 2017.
=Recently Passed Legislation
An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors
So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Practices have been discredited and debunked by every respected and accredited scientific institution, however are still in practice in some states as a form of LGBTQ+ discrimination. 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 suicide. This Bill Prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from subjecting children to conversion therapy practices in an attempt to change sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
This legislation established a 12-person special commission for the purpose of making an investigation and study relative to reducing racial disparities in maternal death.
In Massachusetts, child marriage is when one partner in the marriage, usually a girl, is under 18 years of age and therefore a minor. In Massachusetts alone, nearly 1,231 children as young as 14 years old were married between 2000 and 2016 – and 83.7% were girls wed to adult men. Child marriage undermines a girl’s health, education and economic opportunities and increases the risk of domestic violence and divorce. Because they are minors, married children face many obstacles when they try to leave or resist such a marriage including obtaining services from the Department of Children and Families, bringing legal actions including filing for divorce, renting, shelter admission, and opening a checking account. Therefore, the bill bans marriage under the age of 18 with no exceptions. Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler filed the companion bill, S.24.
Since 2011, there have been new developments in programs and best practices for not only human trafficking victims but also for people who are being sexually exploited. Upwards of 95% of adults in prostitution were sexually assaulted as children. The average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is 14 years old. This bill eliminates the crime for common night walkers, common street walkers, and whoever engages, agrees to engage or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. The bill also exempts a sexually exploited individual whose body is solicited from the crime of soliciting.
This legislation would require the Department of Correction to make available to all women entering the facility written information on women’s health, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections.The information brochure would be created by the Department of Public Health and offered in the native languages. Prior to their release, women would be offered a gynecological exam, a PAP test, and referral to a community health center. Senator Rebecca L. Rausch filed the companion bill, S.1452.
This legislation prohibits the sale of dietary supplements for weight loss or muscle building to minors under the age of 18. These products can have harmful effects, and are associated with eating and body dysmorphic disorders. The bill would require dietary supplements to be removed from shelves and only purchased with an I.D., similar to certain allergy medications.
This legislation creates a process for licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) overseen by a Board of Midwifery under the Department of Public Health. If passed, Massachusetts would join 35 other states that license CPMs. This licensure bill will promote public health, increase access to maternity care, improve the safety of home birth, and save money. Senator Rebecca L. Rausch filed the companion bill, S.1332.
This legislation updates the original Anti-Shackling Law for pregnant incarcerated women to ensure compliance by requiring annual staff training; defining postpartum recovery as minimum of 6 weeks; authorizing medical personnel to determine that a woman is in labor; protecting patients in their care from restraint; and ensuring that instances of shackling are reported to the legislature and EOPSS. Senator Rebecca L. Rausch filed the companion bill, S.1453.
This bill is the first of its kind in the nation. It would provide an annual tax credit of up to $10,000 for cosmetic, personal care, and apparel companies that do not use digitally altered advertisements, which are defined in the bill as commercial images wherein a human model’s skin tone, skin texture including wrinkles, body size, or body shape are changed. Our media environment is full of advertisements featuring human models who have been digitally altered to meet an impossible ideal. This has terrible effects on body image and mental health, especially for young people, and can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Some companies are pledging to stop harmful digital editing practices as part of their corporate social responsibility practices. This bill would accelerate this voluntary trend and ensure that companies have a reason to follow through on these pledges by offering a modest tax incentive for unaltered advertising.
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