School Resources in Connecticut
School Resources in Connecticut
Schools are meant to be student-centered places where young people are safe and can learn what they need to succeed in life. Yet, extremist politicians and well-funded national groups are trying to make public schools and school libraries a site of attacks on LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, and families.
Youth in Connecticut public schools still have rights, and our schools have a responsibility to ensure all students, including LGBTQ+ students, are safe, supported, and able to learn. GLAD and our partners are sharing these resources on your rights as a student, parent, and educator.
Know Your Rights
Nondiscrimination: Along with other personal characteristics, Connecticut General Laws prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, and perceived sexual orientation in Connecticut public schools. You can find the law about “equal educational opportunity” and the characteristics protected from discrimination at GL Sec 10-25c.
Anti-Bullying: Connecticut has strict anti-bullying requirements that schools must follow to protect students from a wide variety of bullying, be it physical, verbal, or online. You can find a comprehensive guide directed at parents here as well as updated versions of the law and information on the state’s ‘prevention and intervention’ strategy regarding bullying here.
Guidance for Schools: The Connecticut State Department of Education has created guidance for schools on the Civil Rights Protections and Supports for Transgender Students. Learn more about this guide here. Advances in the law in this area are advancing rapidly. If you have specific questions about a particular matter, please contact an attorney.
Learn more about youth rights in Connecticut on the following Know Your Rights pages:
What to do if you or your child is experiencing bullying, discrimination, or mistreatment in school
If you as a student are or your child is experiencing bullying at least in part because of an LGBTQ+ status or a perceived LGBTQ+ status, you can take steps under both state and federal law to remedy the situation. And you can pursue both avenues at the same time.
Connecticut Anti-Bullying & Harassment Protections
First, it is important to understand what Connecticut considers bullying or harassment. The State of Connecticut defines bullying as: an act that is direct or indirect and severe, persistent or pervasive, which (A) causes physical or emotional harm to an individual, (B) places an individual in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm, or (C) infringes on the rights or opportunities of an individual at school. “Bullying” shall include, but need not be limited to, a written, oral or electronic communication or physical act or gesture based on any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics;
“Cyberbullying” means any act of bullying through the use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications.
Second, consider whether you want to take action under the school’s anti-bullying or harassment policies, which should be available on the school or district website. If so, follow the steps from the school’s policies, keep copies/screenshots of emails and texts, and take notes of conversations with school staff to show that you have done what you are supposed to and that the school is on notice of your concerns.
If the school is not investigating the bullying, press them to do so. “Connecticut school district safe school climate plans must incorporate a prevention and intervention strategy that may include, but is not limited to, implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports or other evidence-based model approaches, school rules prohibiting bullying, adult supervision of selected areas of school campuses, individual interventions with students involved in bullying incidents, school-wide school climate training, parent engagement strategies, and culturally-competent school-based curriculum.” Read more here under the heading “What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?”
If you are not satisfied with the school’s response, consider filing a formal complaint as described here or in your school’s policy with your school’s principal as well as sending it to the superintendent, school board, etc. when applicable. Please note that this information is from December 2012 and the state of Connecticut is currently updating it.
Another possibility is to contact HealthCare Advocates International which has an LGBTQ+ competency training program for CT schools that may be able to offer workshops the school administration and staff.
GLSEN CT also works to ensure safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
You can find good student resources and updates regarding Health Services and Health Education from the state here.
You may also choose to file a discrimination complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
US Harassment & Discrimination Protections for Students
Federal law is also a tool for addressing bullying and harassment. When these behaviors are ignored or inadequately addressed, this may add up to discrimination or the denial of education opportunities based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, among other characteristics.
You can raise concerns about your or your child’s experience of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, harassment, or other discrimination by contacting contact the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in Boston to file a complaint. The OCR has the authority to investigate a complaint of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. Note that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are aspects of “sex” discrimination.
Harassment and bullying because of a person’s LGBTQ+ identities likely also constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX protections. Read more about the US Department of Education’s updated guidance on Title IX.
If you have questions about the specific situation you are experiencing or questions that have not been answered above, please reach out to GLAD Answers.
Get involved in your local community
- Follow the issues that come up in your school committee and town/city council
- Attend meetings when important issues are being discussed and even to participate in the public comment period in which School Board/Committee members listen to input from the public. It is important that they hear support for good work and good arguments for why LGBTQ+ and race-based restrictions are bad educational policy for all students.
- Follow education, curriculum, staffing, policy, library and other issues in school board and local elections, or run for office yourself
- For support in talking about issues related to education and LGBTQ+ students, and more ways to take action, visit Campaign for Our Shared Future.
Organizations and Additional Resources
- GLSEN Connecticut works to ensure safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities works to eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights law enforcement and to establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons within the state through advocacy and education.
- Connecticut State Department of Education helps ensure equal opportunity and excellence in education for all Connecticut students.
- OutCT is dedicated to building a community through educational, cultural and social programming that promotes acceptance, tolerance and understanding of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
For more youth-focused organizations, visit Youth Organizations | Connecticut.
Connecticut State Department of Education | Guidance on Civil Rights Protections and Supports for Transgender Students — Guidance for Connecticut school districts on the rights, responsibilities and best educational practices for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
GLSEN | School Climate for LGBTQ Students in Connecticut — Connecticut findings from the GLSEN 2019 National School Climate Survey.
Want to learn more about LGBTQ+ Equality in Connecticut? Visit the Movement Advancement Project’s Connecticut Equality Profile.