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Transgender Rights | Public Accommodations | Vermont

Vermont Public Accommodations Q&A

What is a “place of public accommodation”?

A place of public accommodation means “any school, restaurant, store, establishment or other facility at which services, facilities, goods, privileges, advantages, benefits, or accommodations are offered to the general public” (9 V.S.A. § 4501).

Do protections exist for transgender people in places of public accommodation under state anti-discrimination laws?

Yes. In May, 2007, Vermont became the third state in New England to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity (Public Act 41, An Act Relating to Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity, 2007-2008 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Vt. 2007)). The law defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender-identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth” (1 V.S.A § 144).

Does it also protect people perceived of as transgender in places of public accommodation?

Yes. As noted above, gender identity is defined as either “actual or perceived gender identity.” This language includes discrimination based upon perception.

What does the law say about discrimination in places of public accommodation?

Such places may not, on account of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or other protected characteristic, “refuse, withhold from or deny to that person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of the place of public accommodation” (9 V.S.A. § 4502 (a)).

The protections based on marital status mean that a place of public accommodation may not discriminate against same-sex couples who are married or in a civil union (15 V.S.A. § 1204 (e)(7) (prohibitions against discrimination based on marital status apply equally to parties to a civil union).  See also discussion of civil unions below).

There is an exception to this rule, stating that this law does not prohibit an establishment that provides lodging to transient guests (i.e. hotels, inns) with five or fewer rooms from restricting its accommodations based on sex or marital status (9 V.S.A. § 4502 (d)).

Public, independent, and post-secondary schools in Vermont are considered public accommodations and so students are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. See the section on Students’ Rights for further information about the rights and protections for school students.