Skip Header to Content
GLAD Logo Skip Primary Navigation to Content

Title IX | National

In April of 2024, the U.S. Department of Education released a final rule that affirms that Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, transgender status, and other sex-based characteristics and stereotypes.

This is a clear statement that federal law protects LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in public schools and that the Office of Civil Rights will investigate complaints.

The rule also reinstates broad protections and remedies for students who experience sex-based harassment, removing onerous complaint resolution procedures instituted by the prior administration, and providing much-needed updates regarding the rights of pregnant and parenting students.

Q&A

What does this new rule mean for my school?

The federal Department of Education has instructed all schools that receive federal funding to update or adopt policies that comply with these Title IX regulations.

When must my school/university implement the new Title IX regulations?

New Title IX regulations must be adopted by August 1, 2024

Who is better protected by the new regulations?

The final regulations provide greater clarity regarding: the definition of “sex-based harassment”; the scope of sex discrimination, including schools’ obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity; and schools’ obligations to provide an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex (including LGBTQ+ students).

Does Title IX protect me as an LGBTQ+ student?

Yes! The rule prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics in federally funded education programs. The rule applies the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is discrimination because of sex.

This means that schools must protect LGBTQ students from harassment and discrimination and cannot treat LGBTQ students differently from other students, including in sex-separated facilities – like access to bathrooms and locker rooms – and school programs.

Does the ruling say anything about transgender athletes?

The final regulations do not include specific language about sports.

However, several courts have said that banning all transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams or all transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams violates Title IX.

Are there exceptions to what Title IX covers?

Yes, there are some exceptions.

However, no one can be denied the benefits of the new regulations from educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance.

You can find further information regarding exemptions here.

State Laws and How to Get Help

  • It is important to note that in New England state laws also provide protections, sometimes greater than those at the federal level, and are often the first place to start when looking for support
    • You can find state-specific resources for dealing with bullying and harassment due to LGBTQ+ status or perceived status at schools here
  • If you have exhausted state-based resources or want to learn more about your rights under Title IX, you can find Title IX-specific information and resources here as well as the US Department of Education’s 2024 Ruling Fact Sheet here, where much of the information above has been pulled from
  • If you need more information or have questions about what to do if you or your child is experiencing discrimination, bullying, or harassment at school, contact GLAD Answers

A Note About Lawsuits Challenging the New Title IX Regulations

Some states that have passed anti-LGBTQ laws in recent years are currently challenging the new Title IX regulations in court.  However, no court rulings have yet been issued. Schools should be prepared to implement the new regulations by August 1, 2024.

Pride at School | National

Public schools have a responsibility to support and provide a positive environment for all students.

One way that they do this is by displaying support for LGBTQ+ students through Pride symbols and flags.

Public school administrators are legally required to provide the same rights to all students and student clubs under the Equal Access Act. So, for example, if the school allows students from other clubs to hang flags or banners, the school has a legal responsibility to allow their GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) to do the same.

At schools, school officials are able to create guidelines around displaying supportive flags and symbols. Just because they display supportive imagery does not mean that they also need to display offensive imagery if requested to do so. Schools do not need to worry about being forced to put up offensive banners, decorations, or other imagery.

This means schools can fly flags like the Black Lives Matter or Transgender Pride flags to show support for their students. Schools do NOT have to take down these flags, even if someone requests it as a hostile symbol.

What can schools do?

  • Keep up existing inclusive flags, signs, and posters.
  • Have school faculty meetings where school employees propose new inclusive displays.
  • Put up new inclusive displays to show support for their students.
  • Provide all student clubs with the same resources.

What should schools not do?

  • Schools should not create programs that allow private individuals to propose flag suggestions.
  • Schools should not let non-school employees put up displays.
  • Schools cannot allow only some groups of students to have clubs and exclude others.

College | National

Every student is entitled to equal educational opportunities and an environment that supports them. They also deserve to show up as and express their authentic selves, which includes having their proper name and pronouns used in classroom and administrative settings. For LGBTQ+ college students, this can prove difficult as there are no overarching policies or laws regarding name and pronoun usage at universities. Public universities often have more protections for LGBTQ+ students whereas private and religious educational institutions may follow different policies. Below you can find some information on best practices and ideas on how to best approach the subject with staff, professors, and administration. The links and resources provided were not compiled by GLAD and have not been vetted by GLAD.

Applying to LGBTQ+ Friendly Universities

Name & Pronoun Use and the Common App

Due to the Common App (a platform that allows students to use one college application to apply to several universities) asking students for their (preferred) names and pronouns, as of January 2022 over 900 universities across the US now have the ability to integrate the use of those names and pronouns, and over 200 universities directly use this information in their campus information systems.

Here you can find a list from August 2023 of The Best Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students in the US. You can also use the Campus Pride Index.

Pronoun and Name Usage on Campus

Professors using your correct name and pronouns:

All students deserve to be treated with respect. One way professors can be respectful is by asking for and using students’ correct name and pronouns (even if they differ from what’s on the students’ records).

If you are being named incorrectly and misgendered here are some steps you can take to advocate for yourself:

  • Bring it up to the person misgendering or misnaming you. They may not be aware that they are doing so and might be able/willing to easily change this.
  • Share resources. You can find GLSEN’s Pronouns Guide here.
  • Start a conversation on campus and advocate for campus-wide change. Connect with Campus Pride to take their trainings and use their LGBTQ+ advocacy resources.
  • Go to the Title IX Office. Persistent, intentional misgendering is also something you can raise with the Title IX Office at your university.

Updating your preferred name and pronouns with the registrar’s office:

Some universities now give students the ability to update their name and pronoun information at the registrars’ office so as to not out trans students to their professors and other campus staff. Check out this example of a policy to update for preferred (not legal) names and pronouns from Berklee College of Music.

If your school does not have such a policy and/or is refusing to allow you to update your name and pronouns through the registrar’s office, you may be able to make a Title IX complaint. Title IX protects LGBTQ+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more about Title IX here.

Because of FERPA protections, if you are over 18, by law you are able to update your name and pronouns at your college without that information being shared with your parents, guardians, spouse, or financial benefactors.

Advocating for correct name and pronoun usage on campus:

Campus Pride has great advocacy trainings and resources for students.

University Policies, Best Practices, Etc.

Guides for universities looking to update their practices

Below, university administration, professors, and staff can find guides on supporting LGBTQ+ students in higher education:

GLAD Answers

If you’ve followed these steps and the situation has not resolved or is getting worse, please reach out to GLAD Answers. Complete the online intake form at GLADAnswers.org, email GLADAnswers@glad.org, or leave a voicemail at 800-455-GLAD.

School Resources | Youth | Vermont

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 Vermont 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.

Find national resources and organizations here.

Vermont Resources

Know Your Rights

Nondiscrimination: Vermont General Laws prohibit discrimination in educational programs, opportunities and other matters based on gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, and perceived sexual orientation in Vermont public schools. You can read more under 9 V.S.A. § 4501 and 9 V.S.A. § 4502.  Together, these define schools as places of public accommodation and forbid discrimination. 

Anti-Bullying: Vermont has strong anti-bullying laws. It has strict requirements that schools must follow to protect students from a wide variety of bullying, be it physical, verbal, or online.  

Guidance for Schools: The State of Vermont Agency of Education issued guidance in 2016 with best practices for schools regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students. Learn more about this guidance here.

Learn more about youth rights in Vermont 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 or your child is experiencing bullying because of an LGBTQ+ status or a perceived LGBTQ+ status, you can take steps under the directive of the Vermont State Agency of Education state and federal law to remedy the situation. And you can pursue both avenues at the same time. 

Vermont Anti-Bullying & Harassment Protections 

First, it is important to understand what Vermont considers bullying or harassment. Vermont defines bullying and harassment as the following: 

Vermont anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of bullying and harassment: 

“Bullying” means any overt act or combination of acts, including an act conducted by electronic means, directed against a student by another student or group of students and that: 

  1. is repeated over time; 
  2. is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and 
    • occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity; or 
    • does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s right to access educational programs. 

“Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. 

Read more about Vermont law and an FAQ about it here

Second, consider whether you want to take action under the school’s anti-bullying or harassment policies, which should be available on the school website. If so, follow the steps from the school’s policies and keep copies/screenshots of emails and texts, as well as 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. Vermont school districts are expected to “address all complaints of harassment, hazing and bullying” as seen in their Model Policy on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students 

Vermont schools (public, independent and postsecondary) deal with cases of discrimination separately from those of bullying and harassment. They are considered places of public accommodation (9 V.S.A. § 4501), and therefore they may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in their accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges (9 V.S.A. § 4502).  If they do so, this can give rise to a discrimination complaint to be filed with the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

 If you are dealing with a discrimination case, you may choose to file a discrimination complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission. Find out more.

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 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.  

Contact the Office of Civil Rights. 

Harassment and bullying because of a person’s LGBTQ+ status may also constitute 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

Organizations

  • PFLAG Dorset is dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
  • Vermont Agency of Education implements state and federal laws, policies, and regulations to ensure all Vermont learners have equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities.
  • Vermont Human Rights Commission protects people from unlawful discrimination in housing, state government employment, and public accommodations.

For more youth-focused organizations, visit Youth Organizations | Vermont.

Additional Resources

Vermont Agency of EducationContinuing Best Practices for Schools Regarding Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students — Sample procedures designed to provide direction for schools to address issues that may arise concerning the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming students.

Want to learn more about LGBTQ+ Equality in Vermont? Visit the Movement Advancement Project’s Vermont Equality Profile.

GLAD Answers

Still have questions? Contact GLAD Answers for free and confidential legal information, assistance, and referrals. Complete the online intake form at GLADAnswers.org, email GLADAnswers@glad.org, or leave a voicemail at 800-455-GLAD.

Trans Support & Advocacy | Transgender Rights | Vermont

GLAD works alongside many great organizations that strive to support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community. Below you will find links to several organizations that work with transgender folks and their loved ones in Vermont in a variety of areas. For further resources and referrals, please reach out to GLAD Answers by filling out our intake form. You can also email us at GLADAnswers@glad.org or leave a voicemail at 800-455-GLAD.

Criminal Justice | Resources for Incarcerated People | Vermont

Sample Grievance

I, John/Jane Inmate, was harassed/threatened/physically attacked because of my sexual orientation by [name(s) of person(s) involved] on [date(s) that the act(s) took place].

When you write a grievance, be sure to include as much information as you can remember. Include in your complaint:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who did it
  • where it happened
  • what was said by the attacker(s)—paraphrase if you do not remember the exact quote.
  • who saw it happen
  • why you think it happened

If you reported harassment to any prison official(s) previously, indicate who you told, when, and what they did or did not do about it.

Blog

Expanding GLAD Answers’ Reach Where We’re Needed Most

GLAD Answers, GLAD’s legal information line, is busy. This year so far, we have a monthly average of 169 intakes, up from 130 per month in 2022. GLAD Answers staff can answer questions and support a high number of callers with the help of 20 GLAD Answers volunteers.

Intakes per month so far this calendar year:

January

170

February

135

March

197

April

144

May

181

June

205

July

168

August

155

September

123

From January to September, callers have needed support in the following areas:

Issue areasNumber of intakes
ID Project271
Treatment In Prison193
Violence/Harassment122
Medical Care/Access86
Employment67
Housing57
Immigration/Asylum53
GLAD Answers Coordinator Kayden Hall and Public Information Manager Gabrielle Hamel

The team, GLAD Answers Coordinator Kayden Hall and Public Information Manager Gabrielle Hamel, holds a volunteer training every six months. We just held our latest training in September with six new volunteers joining fourteen dedicated others who have stayed with us from the previous year. These committed folks who donate their time respond to emails, phone calls, and online intakes, and provide resources and information to those in need.

Our next volunteer training will take place in the spring. You can sign up now!

With so many wonderful volunteers, we are working to expand our reach to ensure everyone who GLAD Answers can help is aware of this free resource, particularly low-income and Black and Brown communities, as well as regions outside greater Boston. We invite you to share information about GLAD Answers with those in your community who may have questions about their legal rights or need information about addressing anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2023 GLAD Briefs Newsletter, Read more.

ID Documents | Vermont

The Transgender ID Project is a free resource for transgender people living in New England who want to update their legal name and gender marker on state and federal documents.

If you run into trouble or have questions, fill out the Transgender ID Project support form or contact GLAD Answers.

How do I obtain a legal name change in Vermont?

You begin by filing documents with your county’s Division of Superior Court to obtain an “Order Changing Name.”

For an adult name change you will need to submit the following documents:

Steps to take:

  1. Don’t sign the name change petition form until you are in front of the court clerk or the judge. Each court does things differently. Leave the signature part of the form blank, except that you should include your name, mailing address, and phone number/email.
  2. At the top of the form, put your name where it says, “In re” and your town and state where it says “of.” Leave the docket number blank if you don’t have one. Put the name of your county where it says court “Superior Court Unit.”
  3. Mail or bring documents to your local probate court. We suggest that you bring an extra copy of the paperwork you submit and ask the clerk to stamp it with the filing date for your records. 
  4. The court will send you a notice with a hearing date.
  5. Plan to attend a short hearing. The judge may ask you a few questions, like confirming that nobody is forcing you to change your name or there is no opposing party. 
  6. If the judge approves your petition, you will be issued an Order Changing Name.

Note: You can get a certified copy of your Vermont birth certificate from the Department of Health’s Vital Records Office. Submit an application form or apply online and pay $10 per copy requested. This process varies from state to state. If you were born outside of Vermont, you should contact your state’s Department of Health or Vital Records Office to ask about getting a copy of your birth certificate.

Once the Order Changing Name is issued, you can get a certified copy for a $5 fee at the courthouse. Having several copies is useful. If you have multiples, you will not need to wait for one agency to return a copy before you can apply to change another record.

Do I need to publish my name change in a newspaper?

No. Vermont does not have this requirement.

How do I change the name and gender on my Vermont driver’s license?

Before you change your name and/or gender on your Vermont driver’s license or non-driver ID, you must make these changes on your Social Security card.

You should update your license or non-driver ID within 30 days of a legal name change. You can do this by bringing the documents listed below to your local DMV office. Once you update your information, the DMV will issue you a temporary ID and mail you a new ID.

To change the gender marker on your ID, the DMV does not ask for any documentation. Just submit an application form with the updated information. Vermont now allows three gender marker options on state IDs: Male (“M”), Female (“F”), or Other (“X”).

Documents you need:

  • Application for Replacement License (VL-040) or Non-Driver ID (VL-017) listing the new name and/or corrected gender marker
  • If changing name: Original or certified copy of Order Changing Name
  • An identification document, like a driver’s license or passport
  • Social Security verification showing the new name (new SS card, W-2, or other forms)
  • Two documents showing street address (mail you get at a street address, lease, utility bill, etc.)
  • Replacement fee ($20 for License or $24 for Non-Driver ID). There may be more fees for an enhanced license.

NOTE: Beginning May 3, 2023, if you want to use a state ID to fly domestically or enter a federal building, it will need to be a REAL ID. To obtain a REAL ID, in addition to all the requirements above obtain a VT ID, you must also document your lawful presence in the U.S. For more information about obtaining a VT REAL ID, see: Real ID | Department of Motor Vehicles 

If I was born in Vermont, how do I change the name and gender on my birth certificate?

If changing only the name on your Vermont birth certificate

Mail the documents listed below to the Vermont Department of Health, Vital Records, 108 Cherry Street, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402. The Vital Records Office should process the change. If you ask for a certified copy and pay the $10 fee, you will get a copy of your updated certificate.

Documents you need:

  • Cover letter saying you want to change the name on your birth certificate
  • Certified copy of Order Changing Name
  • No specific form is required, but we recommend that you submit an Application to Correct or Amend a Vermont Birth Certificate
  • If you would like certified copies of the updated birth certificate once issued, submit an application form and $10 per copy requested.

If changing the gender marker on your Vermont birth certificate

Note: In April 2022, Vermont passed a law that will simplify the process of changing the gender marker on a Vermont birth certificate and allow a non-binary “X” option. The law went into effect on July 1, 2022. Please check back here or with the Vermont Vital Records Office for more information about the new process.

Mail the documents listed below to the Vermont Department of Health, Vital Records, 108 Cherry Street, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402.

Documents you need:

If the Office of Vital Records approves your application, it will process the change. If you have asked for copies and paid the $10 fee, you will get a copy of your updated certificate.

If the office denies your application, you can appeal to the probate court (see below). Contact Legal Services Vermont for advice.

Appealing a denial of gender marker change on Vermont birth certificate

If the Vital Records Office denied your application to change the gender marker on your birth certificate, you can appeal to the Vermont probate court and ask the judge to reconsider that decision. File the documents below with your county’s Probate Division of Superior Court

Documents you need:

If the probate court agrees that you qualify to have your gender marker changed, it will issue an order that your sexual reassignment has been completed. The Office of Vital Records should then process the updated birth certificate.

Where can I get help changing my name and gender on various ID documents?

The Transgender ID Project is a joint project of GLAD, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), and law firms Ropes & Gray LLP and Goodwin. It matches a resident from any of the six New England states with a pro bono (free) attorney at one of these law firms. However, because of the popularity of the program, it may be several weeks before you are contacted by an attorney from one of these firms. For more information and to apply for the Project, go to: Transgender ID Project – GLAD.

However, in most cases, by using the information and forms provided here, you can update these documents fairly easily on your own without the assistance of an attorney.

Health Care | Transition-Related Care | Vermont

Can health care plans discriminate against LGBTQ+ people?

In general, under federal and Vermont state law, nearly all health plans cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, and, because the Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton Co. concluded that all gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, nearly all health plans cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

What health care plan protections are provided by Vermont?

Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Division of Insurance
In 2019, the Department of Financial Regulation issued a bulletin requiring that health plans regulated by the Department must cover medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria and related health conditions.

The bulletin states that health plans “shall not exclude coverage for medically necessary treatment including gender affirmation surgery for gender dysphoria and related health conditions. In addition, insurers may not deny coverage of gender affirmation surgery as not medically necessary on the basis of age without other clinical factors or circumstances supporting the decision.”

Vermont Medicaid
In 2019, The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules voted to approve a new rule for Vermont Medicaid that requires coverage for medically necessary surgery for the treatment of gender dysphoria. For more information, visit the Agency of Human Services Health Care Administrative Rules Gender Affirmation Surgery for the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria.

Are there any health care plans that are not protected under Vermont law?
Yes. Medicare and employer health plans that are self-funded (also known as self-insured) are governed by federal law.

What health care plan protections are provided by the federal government?

Medicare
In 2013, Medicare removed the ban on coverage for the treatment of gender dysphoria because it was “experimental” and began to cover medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Section 1557 makes it unlawful for any health care provider that receives funding from the Federal government to refuse to treat an individual– or to otherwise discriminate against the individual– based on sex (as well as race, color, national origin, age, or disability). Section 1557 imposes similar requirements on health insurance issuers that receive federal financial assistance. Healthcare providers and insurers are barred, among other things, from excluding or adversely treating an individual on any of these prohibited bases. The Section 1557 final rule applies to recipients of financial assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and health programs administered by HHS.

Section 1557 generally does not apply to self-funded group health plans under ERISA or short-term limited duration plans because the entities offering the plans are typically not principally engaged in the business of providing health care, nor do they receive federal financial assistance.

In May 2021, the Biden Administration announced that the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) would interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the ACA and Title IX’s nondiscrimination requirements based on sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The update was made in light of the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions.

In enforcing Section 1557, OCR will comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq., and all other legal requirements and applicable court orders that have been issued in litigation involving the Section 1557 regulations.

Title VII
For employers with 15 or more employees, Title VII bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in hiring, firing, compensation, and other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Employment terms and conditions include employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. Historically, not all authorities have agreed that Title VII protects LGBTQ+ workers against discrimination.

However, the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton Co. changes this because that ruling made it clear that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination. Although the decision is about wrongful employment termination, it has implications for employer-sponsored health plans and other benefits. For example, employers may want to adjust group health plan coverage of gender dysphoria and related services, including gender-affirmation surgeries, and review and compare benefits for same-sex and different-sex spouses.

Can religious employers discriminate against LGBTQ+ people?

On July 8, 2020, in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its stance on the application of a ministerial exception to employment discrimination cases as established in earlier rulings. In doing so, the Court simultaneously raised an unanswered issue under Title VII: does the ministerial exception for religious employers allow those organizations to discriminate against employees or candidates based on their LGBTQ+ status?

It’s unclear at this point how the Court’s ruling in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru may impact the LGBTQ+ employees of religious employers, but religious organizations and employers should recognize that the ministerial exception does not apply to every position within their organizations. Rather, it is limited to those employees who truly perform religious duties. For example, the position of a school janitor who is only present in the building outside of school hours and is not responsible for transmitting the faith would likely not be considered ministerial in nature.

What steps can I take to get coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria?

  1. First, check to see if your health plan provides coverage for the type of treatment that you want by getting a copy of the plan’s “Summary of Benefits and Coverage.” 
  2. Most insurance plans, both public and private, have detailed requirements that must be met in order to obtain coverage. This is particularly true if you are trying to obtain coverage for transition-related surgery. So, contact your health plan and request a copy of the requirements for the treatment you are seeking. 
  3. Work with your therapists and doctors to make sure that you satisfy all the health plan’s requirements. Documentation from your therapists and doctors is the most critical factor in determining whether your treatment request will be approved. 
  4. Check what treatment requires pre-approval. In most cases, any surgery will require pre-approval, and the plan may only pay if you use a surgeon that takes their plan. 
  5. If your treatment request is denied, find out the reasons for the denial, and, if you still think that you qualify for the treatment, follow the plan’s appeal process. Usually, there will first be an internal appeals process, and, if you are not successful there, you can sometimes appeal to an outside agency. Make sure that you adhere to the deadlines—failure to meet a deadline can automatically end your ability to appeal. 
  6. Keep GLAD informed if you are denied treatment. GLAD may be able to offer suggestions that can help you win your appeal. You can contact GLAD Answers by filling out the form at GLAD Answers or by phone at 800-455-GLAD (4523). 
  7. Although more health plans now cover treatment for gender dysphoria, the process for obtaining treatment, particularly for transition-related surgery, can be time-consuming and frustrating. A great deal of documentation is required and finding a surgeon that does the type of surgery, and who is also acceptable to the health plan, can be difficult. 
  8. Don’t be afraid to be persistent and to refile if you are denied. 

How do I find a surgeon who will take my health insurance?

More and more surgeons who perform gender affirming surgeries take health insurance. You should research surgeons carefully to find one who is a good fit for you. You can look at the list of in-network providers provided by your plan to see if they are included or if it includes any surgeons in your area, and if not, you can contact the surgeon’s office to determine if they accept your insurance. Most health insurance plans require that you use a medical provider in your network, but if your network does not include a surgeon who performs the services you need, you may be able to go out of network if you seek prior authorization from your plan.

What should I do if I am being discriminated against in healthcare?

If you are being discriminated against by a healthcare facility or provider, you can file a discrimination complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission. Visit the Discrimination Issue Area for detailed information about how to do this.

If you have a health care plan that is regulated by the Department of Financial Regulation, you can file a complaint with that department: Insurance Complaints | Department of Financial Regulation

If you have a health care plan that is governed by Section 1557 of the ACA, you can file a complaint with the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights. For more information, visit How to File a Civil Rights Complaint

If you have a self-funded health care plan through an employer with at least 15 employees, you can file a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For more information, visit the Discrimination Issue Area.

Parentage | Vermont

What is the Vermont Parentage Act?

The Vermont Parentage Act, or VPA, is a new set of state laws that expand the ways someone can legally establish that they are the parent of a child (also known as parentage). 

On July 1, 2018, the new Vermont Parentage Act (VPA) went into effect. Through the VPA, the Vermont Legislature rewrote Vermont’s laws on parentage to be modern and reflective of the great diversity of families in Vermont. What this means for children and families in Vermont is that there is greater clarity on who can establish parentage and how to establish parentage. Securing a child’s relationship to their parent(s) is one of the most important components of stability and security for a child.

What does parentage mean?

“Parentage” means that you are a legal parent of a child for all purposes. Parentage comes with a host of rights (e.g., decision-making for medical care or education, parenting time in the event of separation from your child’s other parent) as well as responsibilities (e.g., providing health insurance, providing for basic needs, payment of child support). A secure legal parent-child relationship is core to a child’s long-term stability and well-being.

Why was the VPA passed now?

For years, Vermont courts have called upon the legislature to modernize the state’s parentage laws as they were forced to decide cases without clear statutory guidance. In response, the legislature established a Parentage Study Commission during the 2016-2017 legislative session. The Parentage Study Commission was comprised of a broad array of stakeholders. The Commission studied the existing parentage laws and case law, and it made recommendations about necessary changes. Their work culminated in a report issued in October 2017 which included the proposed legislation that would become the VPA.

Why is it important to establish parentage quickly?

Establishing parentage soon after birth ensures that a child is secured to their parents for all purposes and increases clarity for all involved in a child’s life. For example, established parentage will allow a parent to make any early medical decisions in a child’s life, ensure that a child will receive insurance benefits or inheritance rights, and protect parents’ parental rights if they separate.

How can Vermonters establish parentage under the VPA?

The VPA provides that Vermonters can establish their parentage in the following ways:

  • Giving birth (excluding surrogates)
  • Adoption
  • Acknowledgment
  • Adjudication
  • Presumption
  • De facto parentage
  • Genetic parentage (excluding donors)
  • Assisted reproduction
  • Gestational carrier agreement

Who is an intended parent?

An intended parent is a person who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of the child or is an intended parent under a gestational carrier agreement. Ideally, a person who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent will memorialize that intent in writing, but the law does allow other ways to prove intent to be a parent.

Who is a presumed parent?

A presumed parent is a non-birth parent that the law recognizes because of certain circumstances or relationships. A presumed parent is established as a legal parent through the execution of a valid Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage (VAP), by an adjudication, or as otherwise provided in the VPA.

You are a presumed parent if any of the below are true:

  • You are married to the child’s birth parent when the child is born;
  • You were married to the child’s birth parent, and the child is born within 300 days of the marriage that was terminated by death, annulment, or divorce;
  • You married the child’s birth parent after the child was born, asserted parentage, and are named as a parent on the birth certificate;
  • You resided with the child in the same household, and you and another parent held the child out as your child for two years after birth or adoption and assumed personal, financial, or custodial responsibilities for the child.

Who is a de facto parent?

A de facto parent is a parent based on their relationship with the child. Establishing de facto parentage requires a judgment from a court. You can petition a court to establish your de facto parentage by demonstrating, with clear and convincing evidence, all of the following:

  1. You lived with the child as a regular member of the household for a significant amount of time;
  2. You consistently took care of the child;
  3. You took full and permanent responsibility for the child without expectation of financial compensation;
  4. You held the child out as your child;
  5. You established a bonded and dependent relationship that is parental in nature;
  6. You had a parental relationship with the child that was supported by another parent;
  7. Continuing a relationship with the child is in the child’s best interest.

What is an Acknowledgment of Parentage?

Federal law requires states to provide a simple civil process for acknowledging parentage upon the birth of a child. That simple civil process is the Acknowledgment of Parentage program.

Federal regulations require states to provide an Acknowledgment of Parentage program at hospitals and state birth record agencies. Acknowledgment of Parentage forms themselves are short affidavits in which the person signing affirms that they wish to be established as a legal parent with all of the rights and responsibilities of parentage. The person who gave birth to the child must also sign the form, and both parents have to provide some demographic information about themselves.

By signing an Acknowledgment of Parentage, a person is established as a legal parent, and the child’s birth certificate is issued or amended to reflect that legal parentage. Properly executed, an Acknowledgment of Parentage has the binding force of a court order and should be treated as valid in all states.

How do I establish my parentage through a Vermont Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP)?

You can voluntarily acknowledge the parentage of a child by signing a form from the Vermont Department of Health known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage” or VAP. A VAP must be signed by the birth parent and the other parent. 

If you are the non-birth parent, you can sign a VAP if you are a genetic parent, an intended parent of a child born by assisted reproduction or by a gestational carrier agreement, or a presumed parent of the child. 

Signing a VAP form is voluntary, and it can be done at the hospital soon after birth or at another time. A VAP form must be witnessed and signed by at least one other person. If one person does not want to sign this form, then the other parent can try to adjudicate parentage through the courts.

When can I not establish parentage through a VAP?

  • A presumed parent who seeks to establish parentage in situations in which the other parent is not the child’s birth parent, e.g., the child was adopted by the other parent, must establish parentage through an adjudication and cannot establish parentage through an Acknowledgement of Parentage.
  • Parentage cannot be established through an Acknowledgment of Parentage if there is a third person who is a presumed parent, unless that person has filed a Denial of Parentage. 
  • A person who establishes parentage based on residing with the child and holding out the child as the person’s child for the first two years of the child’s life cannot establish parentage through an Acknowledgment of Parentage until the child is two.

When can a parent sign a VAP?

A VAP can be signed after the birth of a child, up until the child’s 18th birthday. An Acknowledgment of Parentage can also be completed before the child’s birth but will not take effect until the child is born.

How can a VAP be rescinded?

A party who signed the VAP may rescind an acknowledgment of parentage or denial of parentage by:

  1. Filing a rescission with the Department of Health within 60 days after the effective date of the acknowledgment or denial. The signing of the rescission shall be witnessed and signed by at least one other person.
  2. Commencing a court proceeding within 60 days after the effective date of the acknowledgment or denial.
  3. Challenging the acknowledgment or denial within the earlier of 60 days after the effective date of the acknowledgment or denial or within 60 days after the date of the first court hearing in a proceeding in which the signatory is a party to adjudicate an issue relating to the child.

What if I am a non-biological parent? How can I establish myself as a legal parent?

The VPA has many provisions that protect non-biological parents. If you are your child’s presumed parent, or if you are the intended parent of a child born through assisted reproduction or gestational surrogacy, you can establish parentage by signing a VAP.

All parents can establish parentage through a court order. A presumed parent or an intended parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction can seek a judgment declaring the person a parent of the child or do a co-parent or second parent adoption. Some non-biological parents can establish parentage through the VPA’s de facto parent provisions, which require a court to adjudicate the person to be the child’s de facto parent.

How does the VPA help people who conceive through assisted reproduction?

The VPA provides important clarity and protections for children born through assisted reproduction. The VPA confirms that a gamete donor (e.g., sperm or egg donor) is not a parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction. Also, the VPA affirms that a person who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of the resulting child is a legal parent.

What is the difference between joint, second-parent (also known as co-parent), and single-parent adoptions?

A joint adoption is when both partners adopt a child together at the same time. A second-parent adoption is when one partner adopts the other partner’s child. Single-parent adoption is when a single individual adopts a child. All three of these are legal in Vermont.

What is the advantage of doing a second-parent adoption or joint adoption?

Both joint adoptions and second-parent adoptions ensure your child has two legal parents, Both married and unmarried couples can do a joint or second-parent adoption. Adoption allows a non-legal parent to become a legal parent, entitled to make decisions for the child without special authorization. It also permits the adoptive parent to automatically assume custody of the child if their partner dies. Likewise, if the adoptive parent dies, the child will have the right to inherit from that parent even absent a will, and may be able to collect Social Security survivor benefits.

Finally, if the couple separates, adoption ensures that both parents have the right to custody and visitation, and that any disputes will be decided based on what is in the best interests of the child rather than on who is the legal parent.

Do we need to do a second-parent adoption if we are married?

When a child is born into a marriage, Vermont law and the law of all states presume that both spouses are the parents of the child and both names are listed on the child’s birth certificate. However, this is only a presumption and can be challenged in court, so in the past GLAD recommended that married couples do a second-parent adoption to ensure the parentage of the non-biological parent because adoption is a court judgment creating a parent-child relationship and must be respected by other states.

Now Vermont couples have a second way to protect the parentage of the non-biological partner by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage.

If I am a parent who has signed a VAP, do I also need to do a second-parent adoption?

No. A parent who has signed a VAP should not need to do a co-parent adoption to establish parentage. A VAP establishes legal parentage under state law, is the equivalent of a judgment of parentage under state law, and gives you all the rights and duties of a parent. Under federal law, an Acknowledgement of Parentage is the equivalent of a judicial decree of parentage and should be recognized in all states.

Since expanded access to acknowledgments of parentage is an emerging development, some parents might feel more comfortable also completing a second-parent adoption in addition to or instead of a VAP. To understand what is best for your family, individualized legal advice is recommended.

How does the VPA address surrogacy?

The VPA has comprehensive provisions about how to establish parentage through a gestational carrier agreement. All parties to a gestational carrier agreement must have independent counsel throughout the process.  This is a brief overview of the law for informational purposes.

Before starting any medical procedures to conceive a child through a carrier process, you must have a written and signed agreement. This agreement is between you, any other intended parents, the person acting as a carrier, and the spouses of any of those parties (if applicable). This agreement will establish that you are the parent(s) of the child and that the carrier and their spouse, if applicable, do not have parental rights or duties. To enter into a gestational carrier agreement, the following must be true:

  1. All intended parents and the carrier must be at least 21;
  2. All intended parents and the carrier must have completed a medical evaluation and mental health consultation; and
  3. The intended parent(s) and the carrier must be represented by separate lawyers for the purposes of the agreement, and the carrier’s attorney must be paid for by the parent(s).

The law requires carrier agreements to incorporate several terms to be valid, such as allowing a surrogate to make their own health and welfare decisions during pregnancy and requiring the parent(s) to pay all related healthcare costs.

What does Vermont law say about traditional or genetic surrogacy? 

The VPA only allows traditional or genetic surrogacy if the surrogate is a family member. Someone who is not a family member cannot act in this role. Even with a family member, the law’s requirements for a valid agreement, and all of the other protections of the statute outlined above, apply.

What if I am not married?

The VPA explicitly provides that every child has the same rights as any other child without regard to the marital status of the parents or the circumstances of the child’s birth. By not differentiating between parents based on their marital status, the VPA aims to treat all Vermont families equally.

What if I am transgender or non-binary?

The VPA explicitly provides that every child has the same rights as any other child without regard to the gender of the parents or the circumstances of the child’s birth. The VPA, by not including gendered terms such as mother or father, is inclusive of all genders. By not differentiating between parents based on their gender, the VPA aims to treat all Vermont families equally.

Can a child have more than two legal parents?

Yes. Under the VPA, a court may determine that a child has more than two legal parents if the failure to do so would be detrimental to the child. To determine detriment to the child, courts will consider factors such as the age of the child, the nature of the potential parent’s relationship with the child, the harm to the child if the parental relationship is not recognized, the basis for each person’s claim of parentage of the child, and other equitable factors.

What protections are there for survivors of domestic violence so that they are not pressured into establishing legal parentage?

The VPA aims to ensure that the establishment of parentage is fair, clear, efficient, and child-centered. Some legal parentage— such as the non-marital presumption and de facto parentage–can arise by consent. No one should ever be pressured to consent to parentage. 

The VPA contains provisions that allow parents to challenge another person’s parentage if the other person claims to be a presumed parent or a de facto parent but satisfies the requirements for parentage through duress, coercion, or threat of harm.

Where can I go if I need help resolving a parentage issue?

As with any family law issue, individualized legal advice is recommended. GLAD Answers can provide information as well as referrals to local practitioners. If you have questions about how to protect your family, contact GLAD Answers by completing the form at GLAD Answers or calling 800.455.4523 (GLAD).

en_USEnglish