Massachusetts bill would let residents change sex on birth record to X

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts residents would be able to change the sex listed on their birth certificate to a nonbinary X under a bill approved unanimously Thursday by the Massachusetts Senate. Under the legislation, an X designation could be used to indicate that the person is of another gender or an undesignated gender.

The request would have to be accompanied by an affidavit from the individual or the parent or guardian if the person is a minor. The affidavit would state that the request is being made to conform to the person’s gender identity and not for any fraudulent purpose.

No medical or health care-related documentation, court order, or proof of a change of name would be required from the individual making the request. The bill would also require the Registry of Motor Vehicles recognize three gender designations—M, F, and X—on driver’s licenses and nondriver state IDs.

The RMV adopted the change in 2019, but the bill would write the policy into law. The state would also be required to ensure that an option other than male or female is provided on any state form or document that requires an indication of gender.

Several U.S. states already offer a similar range of gender designations on driver’s licenses and forms of identification. The U.S. State Department announced this summer it is moving toward adding a gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people applying for passports.

The bill is similar to legislation approved by the Senate in 2019. They approved a second bill Thursday on a 38-1 vote requiring school districts that offer sexual health education to rely on a “medically accurate, age-appropriate” curriculum.

The bill would require that sexual health education be appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and include the teaching of changes of human development; human anatomy, reproduction, and sexual development; the benefits of abstinence; and the importance of using contraceptives.

Sexual health courses would also have to include ways to discuss safe sexual activity; communication skills for healthy relationships; and gender identity and sexual orientation, including recognition that people have different sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

Schools would have to give parents or guardians the chance to inspect course materials ahead of time. Parents would be able to opt their children out of the classes without the student-facing any disciplinary action or academic penalty if they opt-out. The bill is also similar to legislation approved by the Senate last year.

A third bill approved by the Senate on Thursday would expand access to school meals, including requiring some school districts with a higher percentage of students already eligible for the meals to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.

The bill would also bar school employees or volunteers from publicly identifying a student when payment for a meal has not been received; denying a student a meal as a form of punishment for bad behavior; or disposing of an already served meal because of a student’s unresolved meal debt.

The bill would also prevent schools from denying a student or their sibling the chance to participate in non-fee-based extracurricular activities because of meal debt; prohibiting a student from receiving grades, transcripts, report cards or graduating due to meal debt; or requiring a parent or guardian to pay additional fees or interest costs above the amount owed for meals.

All three bills would have to be approved by the Massachusetts House before heading to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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