The Massachusetts Legislature can and must lead the nation in advancing civil and human rights.

I am committed to making sure our state government uses its power and influence for equity and justice.

Please take a moment to look at the civil and human rights bills I have filed this session.

You can also view all bills I’ve co-sponsored this session here.

civilrights

Filed bills

Honor Foster Parents
S.87, An Act establishing a Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights

Foster parents provide care for children in custody of the Commonwealth. It is essential that the state respects the role they play. My bill creates a framework for foster parents to be treated with dignity, respect, and privacy and to be provided with resources and information needed to provide loving care. There is a shortage of foster families and these policies will lead to better retention and recruitment.

Strengthen Foster Care
S.88, An Act establishing the Massachusetts foster care review office

Some 10,000 children are in placements outside their homes and in state custody due to complex issues facing their birth families. Foster care reviews are required every 6 months, to provide oversight and make sure that each child’s service plan is safe and appropriate. Currently, these reviews are performed by the state Department of Children and Families, which also oversees the system, creating a conflict of interest. My bill transfers responsibility for foster care review to a new external and independent body, the Foster Care Review Office, and allows for systemic issues to be raised and addressed.

» S.88 fact sheet

Abolish Racist School Mascots
S.294, An Act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth

It is long past time for Massachusetts to grapple with our history and correct injustices that have been done and continue to be perpetrated on Native Americans. School mascots that demean Native Americans are one such continued affront. My bill would stop the practice of allowing school team names, logos, and mascots that refer to Native Americans, including aspects of Native American cultures, and specific Native American tribes.

Advance Equity in Agriculture
S.502 An Act promoting equity in agriculture

While we know people of color are significantly underrepresented among our farmers, we do not have good data to see who is receiving state grants for agriculture. The state has an obligation to act to address inequities. My bill establishes a Commission on Agricultural Equity to develop recommendations for supporting racially equitable investments, policies, and practices to promote equity in agriculture in the commonwealth. 

Higher Education for Adopted Foster Children
S.826, An Act expanding access to higher education tuition and fee waivers for adopted foster children

A loophole in our financial aid system for adopted foster children blocks these children from using financial aid for courses taught at night or by outside experts with knowledge in their field. My bill allows adopted foster students to use financial aid to pay tuition and fees for any course offered by a state institution of higher education.

» Sen. Comerford’s testimony on S.826

Ban the So-Called “Gay Panic” Defense
S.956, An Act protecting LGBTQ victims

Criminal defendants have made the outrageous argument in court that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity provoked a violent reaction from the defendant that resulted in murder or other violent crimes. My bill instructs courts that when determining mitigating circumstances for a homicide or other crime, the perpetrator’s perception of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity shall not be considered reasonable provocation.

Protect Patients’ Bodily Integrity
S.1383, An Act to assure informed consent for pelvic examinations of anesthetized or unconscious patients

Everyone has the right to control their own body integrity. My bill prohibits doctors and medical students from performing pelvic exams on an anesthetized or unconscious patient without first obtaining written informed consent, unless the exam is required for the patient’s care.

Health Equity at All Levels In Government (HEALING)
S.1388, An Act Establishing Health Equity at All Levels In Government

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how inequities owed to generations of structural racism and socioeconomic inequality can mean the difference between life and death. Our health depends more on factors like housing, education, transportation, and the environment than it does on medical care. My bill centers health equity throughout government, with leadership in the Governor’s office and empowered community voices to build a culture of health equity.

» S.1388 fact sheet

Help Low-income Workers
S.1821, An Act improving the earned income credit for working families

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) assists 400,000 low- and moderate-income households in Massachusetts. It has been proven to lift families out of poverty and increase employment by encouraging people to work. This, in turn, boosts recipients’ long-term earnings and improves their health. My bill would increase the state supplement to the federal credit, expand age eligibility, and allow people without a social security number to qualify for the credit.

Allow Gender-Neutral Bathrooms
S.2026, An Act establishing gender neutral bathrooms

Sex-segregated restroom facilities fail to accommodate everyone’s needs. These bathrooms in schools can pose difficulty to transgender and gender nonconforming students. Research shows that nearly two thirds of transgender students avoid school bathrooms because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. My bill directs changes to the state building code to allow gender-neutral bathrooms in renovations or new construction.

Indigenous Peoples Day
S.2027, An Act establishing an Indigenous Peoples Day

Columbus Day honors the symbol of the violent displacement and erasure of the native people the European explorers encountered in the Western Hemisphere, ignoring the historical truths of colonial settlement. Columbus himself never even set foot in the United States. My bill directs the Governor to join 13 other states and declare the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day to acknowledge the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and to celebrate the thriving cultures and continued resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations.

Right to Non-Binary Gender Identification
S.2282, An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification

People have a right to be identified by their preferred gender on all state documents and forms. My bill requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to allow a non-binary option other than male or female on drivers licenses, enables parents to choose a non-binary option on their child’s birth certificate, allows adults to change the gender on their own birth certificate by request, and directs the state to develop a plan to allow a non-binary option on all state forms and for all instances in which a gender choice is required.

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