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Aging | Discrimination | Vermont

Vermont Discrimination Q&A

Does Vermont have an anti-discrimination law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination?

Yes.  Vermont was among the first states to pass a comprehensive statewide law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in 1992 (See, e.g., 21 V.S.A. § 495 (employment)). “Sexual orientation” is defined as “female or male homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality (1 V.S.A. § 143).

In May, 2007, Vermont became the third state in New England to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity (Public Act 41, An Act Relating to Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity, 2007-2008 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Vt. 2007)). The law defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender-identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth” (1 V.S.A § 144).

Does it also protect people perceived to be LGBT?

As to sexual orientation, maybe.  Although the anti-discrimination laws themselves do not distinguish between actual and perceived sexual orientation, the questionnaire used by the Civil Rights Unit of the Attorney General’s Office allows people to complain of discrimination on account of both sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation.  However, the Human Rights Commission does not make this distinction in its employment complaint form.  There is no case law on this.  (Note:  The school harassment law, which is discussed below in the Students’ Rights section, does explicitly provide protection for students and their family members who are or are perceived of as gay, lesbian or bisexual.  The hate crime law, discussed below, also applies to actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.)

As to gender identity, and as noted above, gender identity is defined as wither “actual or perceived gender identity.” This language includes discrimination based upon perception.

Does it also protect people associated with LGBT individuals?

Not specifically. But in some situations, if a person is discriminated against because of their association with LGBT individuals or causes, it may be possible to show that the discrimination was because their employer or landlord believed that the person themselves was LGBT.  This would count as discrimination based on perception, which is prohibited.

What kinds of discrimination does the anti-discrimination law address?

Vermont law prohibits discrimination in employment, places of public accommodation, housing, credit, and a variety of services.