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Gender / Sexual Orientation

Colorado Anti-Discrimination Law

Colorado follows state anti-discrimination and civil rights laws and guidance.  On May 20, 2021, Colorado H.B. 21-1108 was signed into law expanding prohibitions against discrimination. The law calls out the need to protect all regardless of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, national origin, or ancestry” in all places of public accommodation, including schools. 

Gender Identity

In addition, with respect to gender identity, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Civil Rights Commission issued rules (3 CCR 708-1) that state “All [public] covered entities shall allow individuals the proper use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.  Gender-segregated facilities include but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and dormitories.”  The term “gender identity” is in turn defined by the rules as follows:  “Gender identity” means an innate sense of one’s own gender.” 

A Colorado court case in 2013 supported the right of a 6 year old transgender student in Fountain School district to use the restroom that aligned with her gender identity.


For questions regarding state anti-discrimination law and guidance, please contact:

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies
Colorado Civil Rights Division

Phone: 303-894-2997
Email: dora_ccrd@state.co.us


Notice of Proposed Federal Rulemaking

On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released proposed amendments to the Department’s Title IX regulations.  The proposed regulations aim to ensure full protection under Title IX for students, employees, and others and end all forms of sex discrimination in federally funded elementary and secondary schools and postsecondary institutions.  The agency’s goal is to ensure that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, that all students receive appropriate support as needed to access educational opportunities, and that school procedures for investigating and resolving complaints of sex discrimination, including sex-based harassment and sexual violence, are fair to all involved.  The proposed regulations would also clarify Title IX’s coverage of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, and pregnancy or related conditions. 

The Department’s Proposed Title IX Rule was published in the Federal Register on July 11, 2022, thus beginning the 61 day public comment period.  To submit a comment, go to the Proposed Title IX Rule and click on the green box at the top that says “Submit a Formal Comment.”  The public comment period will close on Sept 12, 2022. 

Additional information on the proposed rule, includes a summary with background information and a fact sheet.    

Until any new regulations go into effect, the 2020 regulations remain in effect.  For more information on the 2020 regulations, visit: Sex-Based Harassment.

Federal Law

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs that receive federal funding. This prohibition very likely covers discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, as those are forms of sex discrimination. Several federal courts have said as much, as have the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. For more information, see the following:

Federal Guidance

Title IX interpretation, as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity, has varied with each administration. In June 2021, President Biden’s administration affirmed that Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in all education institutions that receive federal funding.  For more information, see the following:

Federal Resources

The U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) maintains a Resource Page for LGBTQI+ Students which includes the following fact sheets and resources, as well as a number of other resources. This page is added to on an on-going basis.


Gender-Based Harassment and Bullying

Gender-based harassment is unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, or nonconformity with sex stereotypes.  Gender-based harassment may include:

  • Acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression
  • Intimidation or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping or failure to conform to perceived sex or sex-stereotypes

Such acts are considered to be gender-based harassment even if they do not involve conduct of a sexual nature because the conduct is sex-based.

Title IX prohibits sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of all students, regardless of the sex of the harasser or the target and regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or the target.

For more information on gender-based harassment, harassment, and bullying, see:

Bullying Prevention and Education

Colorado law also protects students from bullying. Colorado House Bill 11-1254, section 22-32-109 (1)(11)(I) defines bullying as “any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental, or emotional harm to any student” and states that “bullying is prohibited against any student for any reason” (page 9). For information on bullying prevention and education, see:

 


 

For questions regarding federal guidance under Title IX, please contact:

Denver Office for Civil Rights
Region VIII Office
U.S. Department of Education

Phone: 303-844-5695
Email: OCR.Denver@ed.gov

Rebekah Ottenbreit
Title IX State Coordinator
Colorado Department of Education

Phone: 303-907-9331
Email: Ottenbreit_R@cde.state.co.us