BOSTON – UMass President Marty Meehan and the chancellors of the five UMass campuses – UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine S. Newman, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline F. Moloney, and UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael F. Collins – have issued a statement regarding Massachusetts Ballot Question 3, which would repeal or keep in place the current state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation:
As public higher education leaders representing five campuses that host as many as 100,000 students, faculty, staff and guests each day in Massachusetts, we share a commitment to maintaining inclusive campus environments and ensuring that all members of our community feel safe, respected and valued no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, gender identity or any other factor.
The state’s current public accommodation law ensures that transgender and gender-nonconforming persons can choose to use public restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity without fear of discrimination. It protects them from harassment in public places and preserves their dignity and safety.
Present UMass policy assures that all members of our campus communities can choose a restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity. Repealing the provision in the state law protecting those rights would make current state law inconsistent with UMass policy, which could result in legal challenges to UMass. Repealing the provision could also create confusion among university community members and guests, including prospective students, about rights for transgender and gender-non conforming persons on our public university campuses.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, and to the extent permitted by law, we will retain our present policy on restroom and locker room access on our campuses by allowing transgender and gender-nonconforming students, faculty, staff and guests to choose facilities consistent with their gender identity.
The UMass leaders made their statement in their capacity as state policy-making officials, expressing a shared view about Ballot Question 3. Under state law, UMass leadership cannot expressly advocate for a particular vote on this or other ballot questions, but are permitted to summarize the anticipated effects of the ballot question on UMass and its operations.