CC BY-SA 2.0 photo by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr
BRAINTREE -- In the hours following the July 8 signing of a bill by Governor Charlie Baker that will allow transgender individuals in Massachusetts to use restrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC) issued a statement urging caution on how the law will be implemented.
"Today's passage of An Act relative to transgender anti-discrimination, commonly known as the 'Transgender Bill' follows several months of debate and discussion in the Massachusetts legislature and numerous expressions of public opinion," said the statement from MCC, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts.
"While the purpose and intent of the legislation is to provide protection and access to public accommodations for transgender individuals in the Commonwealth, the issue of its implementation will require both careful oversight and respect for all individuals using such public accommodations," it continued.
The bill will prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public spaces, such as restaurants, libraries, museums, and malls. Legislation containing draft guidelines on how the law will be implemented is required to be completed by the attorney general and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination by Sept. 1, while the law will not go fully into effect until Oct. 1.
"I think we're all waiting for what those regulations are going to show, and how we, in our particular case the Catholic Church and the Catholic schools, will be able to adapt to those regulations once they come out," said MCC Executive Director Jim Driscoll during July 19 interview.
"I'm sure there is going to be a lot of discussion between now and Sept. 1 about Catholic schools as they open for their next academic year in September" regarding how this will affect the schools and on how staff should be preparing for any changes, he continued.
In its statement, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference noted that "in our parishes, schools and other institutions, the Church will respect the civil law while upholding the principles of our faith and our religious freedom."