Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities v. Edge Fitness et al.
Update: On January 25, 2022, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Edge Fitness violated Connecticut’s nondiscrimination statute by maintaining a separate workout area for women. Read the ruling.
GLAD has submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court in Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities v. Edge Fitness et al., a case in which a male customer at a gym sued to challenge a women-only workout area. GLAD filed the brief to ensure that the Court’s ruling does not inadvertently undermine Connecticut’s nondiscrimination law, including for transgender people.
Because current Connecticut law does not authorize sex-segregated gyms or workout areas, the trial court in this case created a new, vague, and ill-defined implied right to “gender privacy” to rule that a women-only workout area was lawful. GLAD’s brief argues that the creation of an implied right to “gender privacy” that is not authorized by any statutory language will create a substantial risk that it will be utilized in other contexts that will undermine the state’s nondiscrimination laws. Privacy has all too often been used as a guise to hide prejudice and discomfort with LGBTQ people. The invocation of “gender privacy,” for example, has been relied upon for decades as an unfounded justification of those who objected to the presence of transgender people in gender-separated spaces. It has also been used as a reason to exclude openly gay and lesbian servicemembers from the military. The creation of a new “gender privacy” right could even encourage the reassertion of gender segregation in previously male-dominated spaces.
GLAD recognizes the importance of workout spaces for women that are free from harassment and objectification. Any change to Connecticut law, however, must come from the legislature which can craft a narrow exception rather than through a broad new judicially-created right.
GLAD’s brief was submitted by attorneys Bennett Klein, Jennifer Levi, and Gary Buseck and Kenneth Bartschi of Horton, Dowd, Bartschi & Levesque, P.C. of Hartford. The brief was also joined by Lambda Legal and Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition.