To: The Salem News
From: Senator Joan B. Lovely
Date: February 25, 2018

The #metoo movement has swept the nation over the past several months, highlighting countless cases of sexual assault and harassment. The movement has encouraged victims to come forward and speak out. Their voices have been loud, effective and have inspired thousands to share their own stories.

These stories and this moment in time have forced us all to look inward and challenge the way our society views sexual harassment. It has resulted in increased awareness and has educated us on how often instances of sexual harassment occur. It has brought sorrow and anger to many over the frequency and seriousness of each case reported. Most of all, it has motivated millions of people to ensure that changes are made.

In this context, I am proud to serve as the chair of a new Special Senate Committee to Review Sexual Harassment Policies and Procedures, which I also filed the order to create. The Special Senate Committee has been charged to review the Senate’s long-established zero tolerance sexual harassment policies and procedures and sexual harassment training for all employees each legislative session.

We want to ensure that there are appropriate procedures in place to allow the Senate to look into all allegations of sexual harassment, for all people who do business with the Senate, and take corrective action when necessary. Our work will also focus on identifying gaps, including, for example, that interns have not been included in  previous sexual harassment policies, and determining how best to address them. After a complete review, the committee plans on issuing its recommendations by May 15, 2018.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and a victim of harassment, this issue is personal to me. I am committed to a thorough review of Senate policies and procedures to ensure that we create an environment that is fiercely intolerant of sexual misconduct of any kind and supportive of all victims who come forward to report cases of harassment or assault.

The #metoo movement has established a clear national mandate – one that has been a long time coming. The responsibility now belongs to each one of us to lead and create a supportive atmosphere to feel safe and protected from sexual harassment. As important, we must continue to raise awareness to prevent these heinous acts from happening in the first place. I am proud of the Massachusetts Senate for being at the forefront on these issues and pleased to be in a position to play a significant role in this process.