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Recent Advances in Human Rights in MA

Dear Arlington friends and neighbors,

The Commission is pleased to share two important advances in human rights legislation in Massachusetts and the establishment of a new federal hotline to report hate crimes.

Ending Child Marriage

Recently, the Massachusetts Coalition to End Child Marriage and their allies were successful in outlawing marriage under 18 years of age in the Commonwealth. Prior to this new law, parents could enter a child of any age into marriage, without input from the child, even if the child was too young to consent to sex. The previous law conflicted with Massachusetts statutory rape laws because sex with a child under age 16 is a crime, but marriage to a child under age 16 was lawful.

Child marriage in Massachusetts is not as rare as you may think. The Coalition issued a report in April 2021 which found that 1,246 minors, some as young as 13, were entered into marriage in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2018. At least 83 percent of these marriages involved girls wed to adult men an average of 5.15 years older. And 59 of these girls were younger than 16.

Massachusetts has now joined Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island and New York to set the marriage age at 18, without exceptions.

Protecting Hair Styles Associated with Race

This summer, Massachusetts adopted “The CROWN Act.” CROWN stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”

This new law expands the definition of “race” in statutes barring racial discrimination to cover discrimination based on hair associated with race, including, but not limited to hair texture, hair type, hair length and “protective hairstyles.” Protective hairstyles are considered to be braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots, and hair coverings.

This new law will protect students in public, charter, and nonsectarian schools, employment applicants, renters, those seeking home loans, and patrons of restaurants, stores, and hotels.

The new law directs the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to provide written guidance to educators, and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) to promulgate regulations for interpreting and enforcing this new law.

New Federal “End Hate Now” Hotline

On the federal level, U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins recently announced the establishment of an “END HATE NOW” Hotline to report incidents of hate, potential hate crimes, or concerns regarding individuals believed to be promoting hate-based violence. The hotline is available in English, Spanish, Cantonese, and French.

To make a report dial: 1-83-END-H8-NOW or 1 (833) 634-8669

In announcing this new Hotline, U.S. Attorney Rollins stated that: “When you see hate, call this number and let us know. If you have serious concerns about a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance, call this number and let us know. We have dedicated resources to these important issues and stand ready to act when necessary.”

Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.

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Phone: 781-316-3250

By Mail: 27 Maple Street

Arlington, MA 02476


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