LGBTQ Protections

Federal Laws and Policies Protecting LGBTQ Youth

Title IX

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), as amended, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. Part 106, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department. Every elementary and secondary school system, college and university, vocational school, and proprietary school that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education has an obligation to protect all students, including LGBTQ students, from unlawful sex discrimination.

Although Title IX has long been understood to encompass discrimination based on a student’s failure to conform to sex-based stereotypes, neither Title IX itself nor its implementing regulations mention discrimination on the basis of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. On June 15, 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court held that discrimination on the basis of an individual’s status as homosexual or transgender constitutes sex discrimination within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See Bostock v. Clayton Cty., Ga., 140 S. Ct. 1731, 1741 (2020) (“[I]t is impossible to discrimination against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”). OCR does not enforce Title VII and Bostock does not control the Department’s interpretation of Title IX. Nevertheless, in cases where a complaint alleges that a school’s action or policy excludes a person from participation in, denies a person the benefits of, or subjects a person to discrimination under an education program or activity, on the basis of sex, the Bostock opinion guides OCRs understanding that discrimination against a person based on their status as homosexual or transgender generally involves discrimination on the basis of their biological sex.

15th Amendment

Limits the right of public systems to censor a young person's speech or expression. Protects the right of a youth to be "out", display symbols of pride, and wear clothing consistent with their gender. The 15th Amendment also gives youth the right to be free of religious indoctrination.

14th Amendment - Due Process Protections (Right to Safety)

The right to "reasonably safe conditions of confinement" and "freedom from unreasonable bodily restraint." Youth have a right to physical and emotional safety, adequate food, shelter, clothing, and appropriate medical care.

14th Amendment - Equal Protection

Requires public systems to protect LGBTQ youth to the same extent as other youth and respond to harassment. It also provides equal treatment in the provision of placements and services and equal access to programs.

California Laws and Policies Protecting LGBTQ Youth

Civil Rights Act of 2007 - AB 14

LGBT Californians receive protections from discrimination in state-funded programs and activities.

Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities - SB 1441

LGBT Californians protected from discrimination in state-operated and funded services, activities and programs.

Juvenile Justice Safety and Protection Act - SB 518

Protects LGB Youth against discrimination and harassment in the state's juvenile justice facilities

Omnibus Hate Crimes Act - SB 1234

Makes the state definition of a hate crime consistent throughout law to protect all Californians.

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts SB 1172

Prohibits mental health professionals from using "conversion therapy" to attempt to change a minor client's sexual orientation.

Providing Safe, Supportive Homes for LGBT Youth AB 1856

Requires foster care administrators, group home staff and foster parents to complete training on LGBT cultural competency, sensitivity, and best practices with a goal of improving care and outcomes for LGBT youth in foster care.

California Foster Care Nondiscrimination Act - AB 458

All foster children in California have the right to fair and equal access to all available child welfare services, placements, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

All persons engaged in providing care and services to foster children shall have fair and equal access to all available programs, benefits, services, and licensing processes, and shall not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of their clients or their own, actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

County child welfare departments, group home facilites, and foster family agencies have a legal responsibility to provide care, placement, and services to foster children, family members, foster parents, and service providers without discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266)

Protects the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students to participate in sex-segregated programs and activities that are aligned with their gender identity. This right includes participation on sports teams and in physical education classes. It also protects the right of youth to use facilities (restrooms and locker rooms) in alignment with their gender identity.

California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act - AB 537

AB 537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, changed California's Education Code by adding actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing nondiscrimination policy. State law says that '"gender' means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth." The nondiscrimination policy also prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability. AB 537 protects students and school employees against discrimination and harassment at all California public schools and any school receiving state funding except religious schools.

Personal Rights - California Code 22 CCR 80072

Youth shall have personal rights that include being free to attend religious services or activities of their choice and have visits from the spiritual advisor of their choice. Attendance at religious services shall be on a completely voluntary basis.