As reported on fellow SB Nation site Outsports today, the Bruins, along with the Patriots, Revolution, and Celtics, have endorsed Massachusetts legislations SB 735 and HR 1577, which are bills that would update Massachusetts' existing civil rights law to provide non-discrimination protection for transgender individuals in Massachusetts public spaces - which includes sports stadiums. These teams add their voice to the Red Sox, who already pledged support back in November.
"Treating others the way we’d like to be treated is at the foundation of our society. We all deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law. But right now in Massachusetts, there are no explicit protections ensuring transgender people cannot be turned away from a hotel or denied service at a restaurant – simply because of who they are," reads freedommassachusetts.org, the website of the campaign working to get these bills passed.
17 of 50 states currently have statewide non-discrimination protection in place for transgender individuals; a 2014 survey found that 65% of transgender people living in Massachusetts reported experiencing discriminated against in an area of public accommodation.
According to Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg, the bill should pass sometime in 2016; "There is strong support in the Senate and the Senate stands ready to vote on the matter, as soon as we have access to the bill."
The State Legislature is back in session for their first full week this week, and pressure from professional sports teams should only do more to encourage these organizations to act positively on these bills. As Outsports pointed out, it's incredible that these teams - these large corporate entities - are speaking out on behalf of these bills and on behalf of LGBTQ issues. It's one thing to blandly stand by and claim to offer support to LGBTQ persons, it's another to reach out and take action, and that's just what these teams have done.
We have contacted the Bruins for comment on this issue and will update this article if a statement is provided.
The Red Sox statement from November is succinct and to the point: "Transgender people are welcome in our stadium and deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other fan."
In conclusion: hell yeah, Bruins! Hell yeah, other sports teams! It's awesome to see the massive amount of public support for this bill. Making public spaces safe for everyone in the LGBTQ community is so important, and if these bills pass, New England's sports community should feel proud of their teams pressuring the Legislature to make it happen.