While recent discussion of Mitt Romney and anti-gay bullying has focused on the candidate’s youthful disdain for creative hairdos, his policies as governor of Massachusetts affected far more LGBT students. In 2006, Romney’s administration blocked the publication of an anti-bullying guide for public schools, and e-mails obtained by the Boston Globe reveal the issue was the document’s use of the terms “bisexual” and “transgender” in discussions about protecting certain students from harassment
In 2006, a Romney spokesman said publication of the 120-page “Guide to Bullying Prevention’’ was stalled because, “This is a lengthy document which bears the name of the governor’s office, and it is undergoing the normal review that a document of that length would go through.’’ The review was supposed to take only a few weeks, but it dragged on for seven months and the guide wasn’t published until Deval Patrick took office. In an e-mail, a high-ranking Department of Public Health official says she’d consulted with Romney’s office on the guide, and “Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication.”
Some conservative and evangelical groups say Romney made the right move because, in the words of Massachusetts Family Institute, the anti-bullying program was “pushing a radical agenda,” and “trying to indoctrinate people on the issue of sexual preference.” Yet, that wasn’t Romney’s stance when he first took office. The Atlantic reports that while Romney signed proclamations supporting a gay pride march by the Massachusetts Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth in 2002 and 2003, he abruptly threatened to shut the entire commission down in 2006. In the same year he vetoed a $158,000 budget item that would have funded counseling for victims of sexual violence in the LGBT community, along with suicide prevention. It was a surprising shift from a man who argued during his 1994 Senate run that he was more gay-friendly than Ted Kennedy.
Romney hasn’t said his opinions on gay rights “evolved” during his last year in office, and it’s widely believed that he suddenly became hostile to such issues because he was positioning himself to run in the 2008 election and wanted to distance himself from the state that just legalized gay marriage. While presumably Romney remembers the incident this time, when asked for comment, his campaign referred the Globe to old comments from his time as governor, rather than explaining why his administration grew uncomfortable with merely mentioning the existence of bisexual and transgender people.