May 15, 2019

Senate Fights Back Against Trump Administration’s Attacks On Equality

HARTFORD, CT – Early this morning, the Senate passed legislation that would create a committee to study gender-based or expression-based discrimination in schools and workplaces across Connecticut. This committee would study current anti-discrimination laws and determine the extent of current discrimination based on gender identity and expression. State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) lauded its passing.

The bill aims to protect Connecticut residents from numerous actions the Trump administration has taken to backtrack on progress combating gender discrimination. President Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military, cruelly overlooking what it would mean for those currently serving or how it would impact our military readiness. The U.S. Department of Justice reversed policy that provided non-discrimination protections for transgender people in the workplace. The Department of Education also reversed policy and will not take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity. Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were instructed not to use the term “transgender” in official documents.

“Connecticut isn’t going to stand by and accept these attacks on human dignity. LGBTQ members of our society face undue discrimination, even with existing protections under current laws, and we have a responsibility to change that,” said Sen. Haskell. “No matter who you are, you deserve to feel comfortable, safe and supported, and you deserve to be able to live your life free from discrimination. This study of current anti-discrimination laws is an excellent start, as it will provide a roadmap for how we might continue the fight for a Connecticut that’s welcoming to everyone.”

According to a study of LGBTQ school students in Connecticut conducted by GLSEN, 85 percent of students were the target of homophobic remarks and 20 percent of students were physically harassed because of their gender expression. This is despite Connecticut updating its anti-discrimination laws in 2011. This legislation is designed to study the effects of those updates and the effectiveness of current laws, and whether further updates would better protect individuals in schools and places of employment.

This legislation received support from numerous individuals and groups, among them Chief Public Defender Christine Perra Rapillo, ACLU-CT Executive Director David McGuire and the National Association of Social Workers-CT. They argued that the bill would help fight discrimination based on gender identity or expression in Connecticut, providing better protections for many individuals, especially those who are transgender or gender-nonconforming. It would determine “whether enhancements should be made to the existing statutes to assure equal treatment and safety of this protected class of individuals,” Rapillo said.