Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has acted quickly to respond to recent developments in Federal law affecting the rights of transgender students by issuing an executive order reasserting the State’s protections for transgender people.  Despite a change in Federal guidance, and as detailed below, Connecticut affords greater protections to transgender people than currently provided under Federal law.

In recent weeks, the Federal government has withdrawn support and guidance providing protections to transgender students.  As detailed in this blog earlier this month, the Federal government signaled its new policy position when the Department of Justice effectively decided not to pursue an appeal against a Texas federal district court’s order granting a nationwide injunction challenging the implementation of joint guidance issued by the Department of Justice and Department of Education regarding Title IX protections available to transgender students. The Department of Justice and Department of Education jointly followed suit on February 22, 2017 by rescinding the Obama-era guidance extending Title IX protections to transgender students.  https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201702-title-ix.docx

In response to these actions, Governor Malloy acted swiftly to reiterate Connecticut’s legal protections for transgender people by signing Executive Order No. 56.  The executive order explains that Connecticut law prohibits discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or expression.  This protection requires that public schools provide an equal opportunity for students to participate in school activities regardless of their gender identity or gender expression.  In addition, the executive order provides that bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools are public accommodations.  As such, discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in the provision of such accommodations is unlawful.

To assist school officials, the executive order directed the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to develop guidance on policies that allow students to access school facilities in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression.  In addition, Governor Malloy has directed the State Department of Education to provide additional guidance to public school superintendents regarding Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws.

The full text of Executive Order No. 56 can be accessed at the following link: http://portal.ct.gov/-/media/CD26957CDAEA4D7AA25C3871B8BD2034.pdf

Attorneys at Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C. are available to consult to school districts regarding regular and special education matters in the State of Connecticut.  For further information, please contact Attorney Michelle Laubin at mlaubin@bmdlaw.com.