Friday, September 1, 2017

CT Department of Education Releases Guidelines For Transgender Students

The Connecticut Department of Education has just released guidelines for trans students in response to the U.S. Department of Education removing their guidelines for trans students.

When I was at a symposium at the Connecticut State Capitol late last month that was given by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) on trans students’ rights, it was hinted that the guidelines were going to be released shortly.

In February Governor Malloy issued the following statement that reads in part,
To: Superintendents of Schools
From: Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell
Date: February 23, 2017

Subject: State Guidance for Districts Regarding Transgender Students

The State of Connecticut is committed to ensuring that every student has access to highquality education in a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment. The state also has a long history of supporting the civil rights of all people. Our resolve to continuing both of these traditions remains unwavering.

In particular, the state has been at the forefront of supporting equality and protections for members of our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community, including our transgender youth. In 2011, Connecticut passed legislation (Public Act 11-55) that codified gender identity and expression as a protected class under the state's antidiscrimination statutes.

For these reasons, we are dismayed and deeply disappointed that the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice decided to rescind nationwide guidance on protecting the civil rights of our transgender youth. While this action may have left the federal executive branch interpretation unclear, it does not change the law or eliminate the obligation to follow Title IX and other federal anti-discrimination law.
[…]
In light of the decision by President Trump and his administration to roll back federal guidance regarding the application of Title IX protections to transgender students, we will soon be issuing more formal guidance pertaining to protections afforded to students and staff members under Title IX and Connecticut law. Pending issuance of further guidance, please refer to the May 2016 federal guidance, which is attached.
It was this letter that was the force that lead to the guidelines from the CT Department of Education.

In the document they have sections on;
Establishing Gender Identity,
Names, Pronouns and Gender Marker,
Issues Concerning Student Records,
Restrooms, Locker Rooms and Physical Education,
Dress Code.
They also have a section on Relevant Statutory Language Protecting Transgender Students

But that is not all; they also released a FAQ for the guidelines and in it they cover such topics as,
5. What if the family of another student raises religious freedom as an objection to school policies to protect transgender students?In the public school setting, all students are entitled to equal treatment. Protecting one student’s civil right to equal treatment does not violate the religious freedoms of other students. In explaining this to families who raise objections, school officials may find it helpful to note that all students will be afforded privacy.

6. Do transgender students need to provide documentation of their gender identity?No. Students are not required to produce documents that reflect their gender identity in order to have the right to be treated consistent with their gender identity. Under the relevant laws, schools are expected to treat students consistent with the student’s stated gender identity even if the education records or identification documents indicate a different sex. Similarly, the school’s obligation to treat a student consistent with the student’s gender identity or expression does not require notice from the parent or guardian.

If a school determines that it is necessary to confirm a student’s stated gender identity, it should do so in accordance with the law. Governing law provides that transgender students have a variety of different ways of establishing their gender identity, including, but not limited to: (1) medical history, (2) care or treatment of the gender-related identity, (3) consistent and uniform assertion of such an identity, or (4) any other evidence that the identity is sincerely held, part of the student’s core identity, or that the student is not asserting such an identity for an improper purpose. This is not an exhaustive list and schools should consult district officials and counsel for further guidance.
In the next section they cover,
Single-Sex Facilities and Activities

1. What restrooms should students use?Most schools divide restrooms by sex. Under federal and state laws, CSDE policies and procedures, and Executive Order No. 56, schools are required to provide access to the restroom that corresponds to a student’s gender identity at school, even when this differs from their sex assigned at birth. For example, a student whose sex assigned at birth is female but who identifies as male has a right under the law to use the restroom designated for male students if the student wishes, and it would be a violation of law to require this student to use the restroom designated for female students or an individual restroom. In communicating with students, families and staff about this requirement, schools may find it helpful to note that a private restroom option will be made available to any student.
In the third section…
Student Data and Records

1. What name and gender should be reported to the Public School Information System (PSIS)?If a transgender student requests a change to educational records to reflect the student’s stated gender identity and chosen name, schools should correct student education records to accurately reflect the student’s chosen name and gender identity, regardless of whether the student has completed a legal name change. Similarly, gender and name information reported in PSIS should reflect a student’s stated gender identity and chosen name.
And get a load of this! They even cover gender non-conforming students.
2. What if a student identifies as neither male nor female? In that case, what should be reported to the PSIS?Students who do not identify exclusively as male or female should be reported as Non-Binary in PSIS.
Then they go into what is gender identity and expression.

These are comprehensive documents and they should go a long way in helping school districts.

Just one other thing; in the Guidelines preamble the footnote reads,
1. This guidance document incorporates and draws information and best practice direction from the “Guidelines for Connecticut Schools to Comply with Gender Identity and Expression Non-Discrimination Laws,” issued by the Connecticut Safe School Coalition in 2012 after Public Act 11-55 was enacted. This guidance also reflects federal court and agency decisions as well as interpretive information. Access to the Connecticut Safe Schools Coalition Guidelines can be found at
http://www.ctschoollaw.com/files/2017/02/Guidelines_for_Schools_on_Gender_Identity_and_Expression_final_4-24-12.pdf.
CTAC had the honor of being a member Connecticut Safe School Coalition when we were developing the guidelines for the CHRO.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

GLAD & CWEALF Training

GLAD & CWEALF are providing training for lawyer on the new birth certificate law...

Connecticut Attorney Training: Updating Gender Markers on Birth Certificates


Attorney Training Registration Form
The Connecticut General Assembly has recently amended the process for updating gender markers on birth certificates. In light of this change, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is offering a free training for Connecticut-based attorneys on updating gender markers on birth certificates.

All Connecticut-based attorneys are invited to attend this free training regardless of practice area. No prior knowledge or experience of transgender identity or legal issues is required – only an interest in being of service in this important area of law.

Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD and a nationally-respected expert on transgender legal issues, will facilitate this free training.

Updating Gender Markers on Birth Certificates
March 7, 2016 at 4 PM
One Hartford Square West, Hartford, CT 06106

Training presented in collaboration with Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF). For questions or further information, please contact Juli├ín Cancino at jcancino@glad.org.

Monday, November 30, 2015

LGBT Day at Canton Senior Center

Canton Senior Center
40 Dyer Avenue, Canton CT 06019
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
10AM-3PM
Come out and Connect! ~ Feel free to link this webpage!
LGBT elders and allies from all Connecticut towns are welcome

Join us & please, Help Spread the Word


A Day of Empowerment, Education & Fun
Canton Senior Center
40 Dyer Avenue, Canton CT 06019
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
10AM-3PM

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, WORKSHOPS & PRESENTATIONS
  • 10:00-11:30 AM: Wii Nintendo Bowling & Bean Bag Game Competition 
  • 10:00-11:30 AM: Mandala Workshop: “Knowing & Being True to Your Authentic Self” theme. (Max. 15 participants) Inspired by You; Lead by Donna Gentile 
  • 11:00-1:00 PM: Free Blood Pressure Readings & Health/Wellness Resources Available (Thanks  to the Farmington Valley, VN  & the Farmington Valley, Health District))
  • 11:30-1:00 PM: Free BRUNCH available to the Attendees & Presenter
  • 1:00-2:30 PM: Mandala Workshop: “Knowing & Being True to Your Authentic Self” theme. (Max. 15 participants)
  • 1:00-2:00 PM: Better Sex In Later Years? It Can Be a Reality”:  Engaging Workshop lead by Justine Ginsberg, RN, BSN, Community Health Coordinator, complete with literature, & resources on how to embrace & enhance your sex life. Freebies included. 
  • 1:00-2:00 PM: Wii Bowling, cards  & Bean Bag Game & Puzzles
  • 2:00-3:00 PM: Belly Dancing Demonstration & Lesson with Kalia of Kalia Belly Dance (CT)
  • 2:00-3:00 PM: Educational & Informative Workshop: Estate Planning in & outside of domestic partnership or marriage; Protecting Assets & long term Planning Workshop with Financial Advisor Diane Fisher & Expert on Senior Living Options Lori Riley
Reserve Your Spot for the day by Calling 860.693.5811 x6
Let us know if you need any special accommodations, including for food!
RSVP by Monday, December 8th!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance


Hartford:
Transgender Day of Remembrance
COMMUNITY ** COMPASSION ** HOPE
7:00pm Friday November 20, 2015
To be held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford 155 Wyllys Street, Hartford CT 06106
(Parish House, Church of the Good Shepherd, entrance in the back)
Office: (860)724-4605

Springfield MA:
UniTy of the Pioneer Valley
Thursday November 12, 6:30pm 3300 Main St Springfield.

Westport:
The Unitarian Church in Westport
WHEN
November 20, 2015 at 7pm - 8pm
WHERE
The Unitarian Church of Westport
10 Lyons Plains Rd
Westport, CT 06880
United States
CONTACT
Arnela Ten Meer · nelaya21@gmail.com

Niantic:
OutCT has organized a special program in honor/memory of the transgender community. Everyone is welcome!
Friday, November 20, 2015
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Niantic Community Church
170 Pennsylvania Avenue
Niantic, CT

Granby:
On Friday, November 20, First Church will commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance, beginning with a brief worship service at 6pm in the sanctuary and then continuing with informal Q&A in Cook Hall over a baked potato buffet. The event is open to all who seek to learn about this important topic.
Where:
219 North Granby Road
Granby. CT 06035

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Signing)

It was a great honor that CTAC was invited to signing of the bill.


After the ceremony we were handed the signed copy of the law and a pen that he used to sign the bill, which we will donate to the LGBT collection at the Elihu Burritt Library on the campus of Central Connecticut State University.


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GLAD has a birth certificate tool kit to help you with the paperwork.

Monday, October 5, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)

Reprinted from Diana’s Little Corner In The Nutmeg State by permission

I have been monitoring my emails and then on June 1, I received an email from our lobbyist saying we were on today’s Senate calendar, so I started monitoring CT-N Senate telecast. All day long I listen to classical music (that is what CT-N plays when the Senate is out of session). Then around 3:30 I heard the Senate called to order…RATS! I was just heading out the door to go to the local NBC station to comment on the Craitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair article.

When I got home the message light was blinking with a message from my state senator’s aide, I had called and emailed her asking her to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. The message said that the bill was just being heard in the Senate. I looked at the timestamp of the voice message and it was twenty minutes ago. So I turned on CT-N and another bill was now being heard.

I checked my email and there were emails from out lobbyist and the other members of the coalition all congratulating and thanking Betty Gallo. The bill had passed not ten minutes ago!

CT-N has a rewind feature so I rewound it about a half hour and watched the short debate.

Senator Gerratana (D) from the 6th District from my district read the bill and Senator Markley (R) from the 16th asked a question about “other treatment clinically appropriate” and what did it mean. Sen. Gerratana replied by reading from the WPATH Standard of Care . Sen. Markley then asked if there were any other New England state that have a similar law, Sen. Gerratana replied saying yes, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Sen. Witkos (R) from the 8th District asked if we would have to go through Probate Court to change our birth certificate, Sen. Gerratana said no, only if it was for an out of state birth certificate. Sen. Witkos then asked some medical procedure questions and it was fun watching Sen. Witkos and Sen. Gerratana discussing genital on the floor of the Senate.

The bill was then voted on… Yea 32, Nay 3, and absent and not voting 1

The Hartford Courant said this about the floor debate,
Sen. Terry Gerratana, the co-chairwoman of the legislature's public health committee, said the bill is indicative of an evolving understanding of gender transformation. "Standards of care change and the bill reflects ... the best standard of care is regarding gender change,'' the New Britain Democrat said.

Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, was among the bipartisan majority backing the measure. "I often feel like I lack the expertise to make decisions on subjects like this," he said. "However in light of the information I've received, and the testimony that we heard at the community level, I'm prepared to support the bill as it stands."
In a Wall Street Journal article Sen. Markley is quoted,
“We are talking about making changes to things which have been established by law and custom for a long, long time,” said state Sen. Joe Markley. In an interview last week, the Republican lawmaker said he was reluctant to support the legislation but voted in favor of it Monday. “It becomes a matter of where you draw the line. I don’t know where medically, psychologically, where that line should be.”
Governor Malloy said that he will sign the bill and it will take effect on October 1st

No one person can pass legislation, it takes a coalition and our coalition members (In alphabetical order) were…
American Civil Liberties Union of CT (ACLU)
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition (CTAC)
CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
Equality Federation
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
True Colors
And many thanks to Rachel and also the ACLU for providing our lobbyist Betty Gallo of Gallo & Robinson LLC.

Part 6 will be on my thought on working on this legislation...

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GLAD has a birth certificate tool kit to help you with the paperwork.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)

Reprinted from Diana’s Little Corner In The Nutmeg State by permission

Now the waiting begins, when would our bill get voted on in the House, the days ticked by and I worried that it was going to be like 2009 when the bill came up for a vote on the last day of the session and the Republicans talked the bill to death. Would history repeat itself?

Then on the night of the 14th just before I went out to a LGBT Dinner and Movie at a the Simsbury Senior Center I received an email from our lobbyist, Betty Gallo saying that our bill will to be heard that night. I was torn between going to the dinner or rushing up to the capitol but since I was one of the people who suggested the senior centers have LGBT night I figured I should go to the dinner. However, I kept on eye on my email. Then at 9:04 came this brief email... "Debate begins in the House." and I held my breath.

That was followed by this email at 9:13, “Bill passed 126-18” then came all the emails from all those who worked on the bill, we were ecstatic. The bipartisan support continued in the House.

The CT Mirror reported,
An easier path to new ID for transgender persons
By: Mark Pazniokas
May 14, 2015

With little debate, the House of Representatives voted 126 to 18 Thursday night for legislation easing the way for transgender people to legally change their sex on birth certificates, drivers’ licenses and other forms of identification in Connecticut.
[…]
“It affects a very small group of people, but it makes a huge difference in their lives,” said Betty Gallo, a long-time lobbyist on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
The Hartford Courant wrote,
"There are some individuals who cannot have the surgery,'' said Rep. Matt Ritter, co-chairman of the legislature's public health committee, which has jurisdiction over birth certificates and other vital records.

"There are medical reasons. Sometimes there are financial implications,'' Ritter said. "So we've created a new mechanism to allow one to amend their original birth certificate with conditions."
The transcripts of the House session showed that the discussion and vote lasted less than nine minutes.

Now the bill moves on to the Senate.

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GLAD has a birth certificate tool kit to help you with the paperwork.