Judiciary Committee

March 2019

Submitted by: NASW/CT Diversity Committee

Honorable Senator Winfield, Representative Stafstrom, and the Judiciary Committee,

The National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter’s (NASW/CT) Diversity Committee is in support of An Act Creating an Advisory Committee to Study Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression that Occurs in Workplaces and Schools in the State, Raised Senate Bill No. 792 (S.B. 792).

The NASW/CT’s Board of Directors has recently commissioned the Diversity Committee to support diversity through social work and development; to advance professional standards and improve services related to awareness of diversity, equity and oppression; and to promote social justice through public policy and action. The Diversity Committee is comprised of social workers at the MSW, DSW and PhD levels who are dedicated to the profession, clients, social justice and the NASW Code of Ethics. Committee members support legislation which addresses the needs of underserved populations. Therefore, please accept this submission of testimony in consideration of S.B. 792.

Many transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) individuals living in CT experience discrimination at school and in the workplace, interfering with their ability to gain the full benefits of education and employment. Anti-transgender bias and discrimination contributes to fear, shame, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety as well as physical health problems. This discrimination persists despite the passage of a bill adding gender identity and expression to Connecticut’s anti-discrimination law in 2011.

The GLSEN National School Climate Survey in 2017 reported that middle and high schools are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBTQ students, the overwhelming majority of whom routinely hear anti-LGBTQ language and experience victimization and discrimination at school. As a result, many LGBTQ students avoid school activities or miss school entirely. According to this Survey, in Connecticut (please see attached 2017 State Snapshot for more information):

  • Over 80% of LGBTQ students regularly heard negative remarks about gender expression, and over 70% regularly heard negative remarks about transgender people.
  • The vast majority of LGBTQ students experienced anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the form of verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault. Over 50% of LGBTQ students were verbally harassed based on gender expression, and almost 10% were physically assaulted based on their gender expression.
  • Over 50% of transgender students were prevented from using their chosen name or pronouns in school; moreover, over 50% of transgender students were unable to use the school restroom aligned with their gender identity.
  • Fewer than 20% of middle and high schools had a policy or official guidelines to support transgender and GNC students.

A hostile school climate affects students’ academic success and mental health. LGBTQ students who experience victimization and discrimination at school have worse educational outcomes and poorer psychological well-being. In contrast, students who feel safe and supported at school have better educational outcomes and fewer mental health issues.

Regarding employment, the National Center for Transgender Equality reports that more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination.

  • Refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment, and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences and are experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color.
  • Many people report changing jobs to avoid discrimination or the risk of discrimination. Extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead one in eight to become involved in underground economies—such as sex and drug work—in order to survive.
  • Trans people can also face discrimination in job programs meant to connect them with employment opportunities and/or training.

Therefore, establishing legislation that contains specific language creating an advisory committee to examine state law with regard to (1) protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in places of employment and schools, and (2) needed legislative or administrative actions to enhance such protections, is of utmost importance to better serve the growing population of transgender and GNC constituents in Connecticut.

Due to the pressing need to more appropriately serve the transgender and GNC community, the Diversity Committee respectfully requests your support for S.B. 792, which establishes an advisory committee to study discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in workplaces and schools. Passage of this bill will help build a safer and healthier environment for transgender and GNC people and their families in Connecticut.


NASW/CT Diversity Committee

LaQueshia Clemmons, LMSW (co-chair)

Marlanda Hamilton, LMSW (co-chair)

Sherryl Chin, MSW

Alberto Cifuentes, Jr., LMSW

Antonia Cordero, LMS, DSW

Cheryl Green, LCSW, Ph.D.

Irwin Krieger, LCSW

Karen McLean, LMSW, Ph.D.

Rick Tsukada, LCSW

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