This Week in Non-Discrimination: Legal Action in Florida and Missouri, Virginia Moves Forward, and #TransBillNH Picks Up Steam

By Shane Stahl • January 26, 2018 • 3:46 pm

LGBTQ news this week saw a historic vote in Virginia regarding non-discrimination protections, and more action in the courts as Missouri will hear two LGBTQ discrimination cases this term. Additionally, the latest in a long line of discrimination cases by transgender students was filed in Florida.

FLORIDA

A 15-year-old transgender male student filed suit this week against his county’s school board, claiming that their discriminatory policies have caused him mental anguish, embarrassment, and humiliation.

The plaintiff, John Doe, contests that the Volusia County School Board’s policies regarding bathrooms and locker rooms are a violation of both Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Doe has lived as a boy since the age of 7, and has repeatedly been forced to use single stall bathrooms, excluding him from equal treatment.

Doe is being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Transgender Youth Project. Volusia County School Board had no comment on the pending litigation.

MISSOURI

On Tuesday, the ACLU reported that the Missouri Supreme Court will hear two non-discrimination cases this term.

The first case, Lampley v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights, involves an employee sex-discrimination claim against the State of Missouri — Harold Lampley said he faced harassment for not conforming with his employer’s stereotypes of masculinity. Although the Human Rights Commission declined to investigate (as the state does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation), and a trial court sided with the Commission, an appellate court found the claim was based on sex, not sexual orientation, and allowed the case to move forward.

The second case, R.M.A. (Appleberry) v. Blue Springs, involves a transgender student denied access to the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to his gender identity.

In a 2-1 decision, an appellate court affirmed a lower court decision dismissing the case on grounds that the Missouri Human Rights Act does not protect gender identity. The Missouri Supreme Court will now weigh in.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Ahead of next Wednesday’s hearing on HB 1319, also known as #TransBillNH, several major endorsements have lent their support to the legislation, which would add statewide non-discrimination protections for transgender people to the Granite State’s existing civil rights laws.

The list of official endorsements has expanded to include 10 organizations with major state and regional influence. One major new endorsement is New Hampshire Legal Assistance, which provides civil legal aid to low-income Granite Staters. They are the second organization that specifically focuses on legal protections to endorse #TransBillNH; the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights threw its weight behind #TransBillNH last year. Other significant endorsements this week included the editorial boards of two of the state’s most widely distributed newspapers, the Portsmouth Herald and the Concord Monitor.

The official hearing on the bill is scheduled for January 31 at 1:00pm in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

VIRGINIA

On Monday, the Virginia Legislature passed two non-discrimination bills through committee, both with votes of 12-3.

Senate Bill 202, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), would expand the state’s existing protections for LGBTQ people in state government to apply to county and local government as well. Senate Bill 423, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudon County), would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Virginia Fair Housing Code.

On Friday, the Virginia Senate, in a historic vote, passed both bills. They will move to the House of Delegates for debate; if passed, Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign — on January 13, in one of his first actions as Governor, he signed an executive order extending non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ state employees and contractor

On January 23, first term Delegate Debra Rodman (D-Henrico) introduced HB 1466, which  prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for medically necessary transition-related expenses. The chief co-patron of the bill is Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas Park), the first transgender woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly.

“Despite federal attempts to protect doctors who seek to discriminate against LGBT people, I know we can do better here in Virginia,” Rodman said in a statement. “I put forward HB 1466 because I care about the transgender community and know they deserve access to the same medical care I have.”


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