Metro

Students will be ‘protected’ and ‘safe’ in Mass., Baker says

Governor Charlie Baker signed a transgender public accommodations law bill into law last July, which he says will protect Mass. students in the wake of President Donald Trump’s move to lift similar federal protections.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Governor Charlie Baker signed a transgender public accommodations law bill into law last July, which he says will protect Mass. students in the wake of President Donald Trump’s move to lift similar federal protections.

Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday said he is “disappointed” with the Trump administration’s move to lift federal protections that allowed students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

“I obviously don’t support the message and I don’t believe it’s the right message,” Baker said, speaking after a press conference in the state house on a different topic.

On Wednesday Trump’s newly appointed attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said the guidance, put in place under president Barack Obama in 2015 and 2016, did not contain “sufficient legal analysis” to explain how the protections were consistent with the language of Title IX, a federal law pertaining to gender discrimination.

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In withdrawing the guidance, which was put in place under Obama in 2015 and 2016, the Department of Justice and Department of Education has left it up to Congress, state legislators and local governments to put protections in place for transgender students.

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In Massachusetts, however, those students may not be impacted by the decision like those in other states.

That’s because Baker in July signed into law a transgender public accommodations law that allows people in Massachusetts to use bathroom facilities based on their gender identity. The governor signed the state law after months of criticism for his ambiguity on the controversial issue

Speaking at the press conference Thursday, which was held to swear-in a black advisory committee to advise the governor on matters of diversity and inclusion, the governor said he is glad the state’s law is in place.

“I do believe that here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts... kids are going to be protected and kids are going to be able to feel safe and secure in the communities they live in and the schools the go to,” Baker said.

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The topic again puts Baker in a tough spot with the national party. The Republican governor has said he did not vote in the presidential election and has sought to distinguish himself from the new President.

Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.