Youth | Discrimination | Connecticut
What are my rights as an LGBTQ+ student?
All Connecticut public school students have the right:
- To be safe in school without being bullied,
- To access information about LGBTQ+ subjects including educational websites,
- To dress and present yourself in a manner consistent with your gender identity,
- To free speech and expression. This means you have the right to express ideas that may offend other people and you have the right to disagree with others, as long as you express those ideas in a respectful way.
All Connecticut public and many private school students have the right:
- To be protected from discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or HIV status,
- To form a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) that gets treated the same as every other non-curricular group. This means equal funding, access to facilities, and the ability to choose your group’s name.
Outside of school you have the right:
- To be protected from discrimination based on your actual or perceived sexual orientation, HIV status, or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations (like restaurants or stores).
- To give your own consent to get tested for HIV without your parents’ permission. For more specific information, see the “HIV/AIDS” Issue Area.
- To report to the police anyone in or out of school who physically harms you, threatens you, or vandalizes your property.
Federal law also protects you from discrimination at school
You are protected from discrimination in public schools or other schools that receive federal funding because of Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law, and it prohibits discrimination based on sex – including sexual orientation or gender identity – across the country.
Does Connecticut have an anti-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination?
Does the Connecticut anti-discrimination law also protect public school students?
Yes, Connecticut Gen. Stat. Sec 10-15c prohibits discrimination against public school students in activities, programs and courses of study based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression as well as race, color, sex, religion and national origin. For more information about the Connecticut anti-discrimination law and how to file a discrimination complaint, see the “Discrimination” Issue Area.
Does Connecticut have guidance schools should follow to protect transgender students?
Yes, Connecticut has created guidance for school districts on the rights, responsibilities and best educational practices for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
The guidelines include the following:
- Schools should respect a transgender student’s name and pronouns;
- Schools should respect transgender students’ privacy regarding any medical information, previous names, etc.;
- The name and gender on a student’s records should conform to the student’s gender identity;
- Transgender students should be able to use the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that accord with their gender identity;
- In any sex-segregated activities (including athletics), transgender students should be able to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
For more information on this guidance, see “Guidance on Civil Rights Protections and Supports for Transgender Students”:
Do the laws also protect people perceived to be LGBTQ+?
Yes. Connecticut non-discrimination law defines “sexual orientation” as either “having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such preference or being identified with such preference…” (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81a (emphasis added)). This language includes discrimination based on perception. For example, if a person is fired because they are perceived to be gay, they may invoke the protection of the anti-discrimination law regardless of their actual orientation.
Similarly, the law defines “gender identity or expression” as:
[A] person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth… (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-51(21) (emphasis added)).
Are there other laws, which may protect me from discrimination and harassment because of my sexual orientation?
Possibly. Federal law prohibits sex discrimination in public schools that receive federal funding. Depending on the situation, harassment of LGBTQ+ students may be actionable as sex discrimination (Visit, e.g., Ray v. Antioch Unified School District, 107 F. Supp. 2d 1165 (N.D. Cal. 2000) (stating that attacks based on a student’s perceived sexuality constitute sex discrimination)). Harassment of transgender students in particular is actionable. Several federal courts have held that the federal anti-discrimination law, Title IX, prohibits discrimination based on gender identity (Visit, e.g., Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Bd. of Educ., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9362 (7th Cir. 2017); cf. Bd. of Educ. v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131474 (S.D. Ohio 2016)).
Complaints can be made to your school Title IX coordinator, as well as to:
Office of Civil Rights
The U.S. Department of Education
John W. McCormack Post Office & Courthouse, Room 222
Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109
Additionally, some kinds of discrimination and harassment may violate a student’s constitutional rights.
What can I do if I’m being discriminated against at school?
There are many ways to approach the issue. One is to ask for support from a friend, teacher or counselor, and talk to the people who are bothering you. That is not an option, however, if you don’t feel safe doing so.
Take a look at your school’s policies and notify whoever is supposed to be notified – usually a vice principal or Title IX coordinator. You may wish to document any incidents of harassment or discrimination in writing. Once you meet with the right officials, make a note of what you told them and on what date and ask when they will be getting back to you with a response. If they don’t help you or don’t follow through, you may wish to write to the superintendent and school board and ask them to end the discrimination.
At the same time, or after contacting the administration as set out above, you may want to send a copy of your complaint to the State Dept. of Education. While they do not have an explicit policy on complaints and they have no obligations under the non-discrimination law, you could request that they intervene on your behalf. Contact Office of Public Information, Conn. State Dept. of Education, 165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06145. Their phone number is (860) 566-5677 and their website is http://www.state.ct.us/sde/
If the above methods fail to stop the discrimination, you may also wish to consider taking legal action. Contact GLAD Answers for attorney referrals.
Does Connecticut have a law that bans conversion therapy?
Yes, in 2017 Connecticut passed Public Act 17-5, An Act Concerning the Protection of Youth from Conversion Therapy.
State and national medical, mental health, and child welfare organizations all oppose the practice of conversion therapy, a practice which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Extensive professional literature shows the practice to be both ineffective in changing sexual orientation or gender identity and harmful to youth. Young people who have been subjected to conversion therapy are at increased risk of depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, and illegal drug use.
Under the law’s provisions, any licensed health professional who practices conversion therapy would be subject to discipline by the Department of Public Health up to and including the loss of their professional license.
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