Youth | Discrimination | Rhode Island
Does Rhode Island have an anti-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination?
Yes. Since 1995, Rhode Island has had a comprehensive anti-discrimination law concerning sexual orientation in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations and has included sexual orientation under its equal opportunity and affirmative action law. In 2001, Rhode Island added gender identity or expression to each of these statutory protections (R.I. Gen. Laws, ch. 11-24 (public accommodations); ch. 28-5 (employment); ch. 28-5.1 (equal opportunity and affirmative action); and ch. 34-37 (housing and credit)).
Does it also protect people perceived to be LGBTQ+?
Yes. The anti-discrimination laws define “sexual orientation” as “having or being perceived as having an orientation for heterosexuality, bisexuality or homosexuality and define “gender identity or expression” as including a “person’s actual or perceived gender” (R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 28-5-6(11)(gender identity or expression) and (16)(sexual orientation) (employment); 34-37-3(9)(gender identity or expression) and (15)(sexual orientation) (housing and credit); and 11-24-2.1(h)(sexual orientation) and (i)(gender identity or expression) (public accommodations)). Thus, if a person is fired because they are perceived to be gay (whether they are or not), they may still invoke the protection of the anti-discrimination law to challenge the firing.
Are there federal laws that protect students?
Yes, Title IX prohibits discrimination against students based on sex in any school or college that receives federal funds. In light of the Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination, the federal Department of Education, which enforces Title IX, has stated that it will interpret any sexual orientation or gender
identity discrimination as sex discrimination.
To file a complaint with the federal Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, see:
How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
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.
Does Rhode Island have a law that bans conversion therapy?
Yes, in 2017 Rhode Island passed Section 23-94, Prevention of Conversion Therapy for Children, which prohibits any licensed mental health professional from performing conversion therapy on a minor.
State and national medical, mental health, and child welfare organizations all oppose the practice of conversion therapy, a practice that 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 Rhode Island Department of Health.
LGBTQ+ Advocates and Supporters Urge Rhode Island to Reject Harmful LegislationRead More
In an open letter shared with State House leadership today, Rhode Island LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters urged legislators…
Let All Students Play School Sports in Rhode IslandRead More
On March 1, 2022, Senators Morgan and Lombardo introduced a bill, S 2501, that would ban transgender girls…
LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sex Education in Rhode Island SchoolsRead More
On February 2, 2022, Senior Staff Attorney Patience Crozier submitted testimony in support of H.7166. This bill would…