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UMass Will Stick With 'Inclusive' Policies, Regardless Of Transgender Ballot Measure Results

Students and faculty walk out of the Campus Center at UMASS Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Students and faculty walk out of the Campus Center at UMASS Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Repealing the state law that bans discrimination based on gender identity could subject the University of Massachusetts to legal challenges over its policies, system officials cautioned Monday.

Question 3 on November's ballot asks voters whether to uphold or repeal the 2016 law that protects transgender people against discrimination in public places and allows them to use sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity regardless of their assigned sex at birth.

UMass President Marty Meehan and the chancellors of the five UMass campuses — Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and the medical school in Worcester — said in a statement that UMass, regardless of the outcome of the ballot question, is committed "to maintaining inclusive campus environments" and the school's current policy "assures that all members of our campus communities can choose a restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity."

Repealing the law would make that policy inconsistent with state law, potentially resulting in legal challenges, and 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," the UMass officials said.

"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 statement said.

In Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll results released Monday, 68 percent of the 500 likely voters surveyed supported keeping the law in place.

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