While we are in the middle of strenuous efforts to make sure that all COVID-19 patients have full healthcare access to protect both these patients and all of us, Politico recently reported that “the Trump administration is moving to scrap an Obama-era policy that protects LGBTQ patients from discrimination.”

This continues a pre-pandemic push to limit the rights of some of us. According to NBC, there are currently over 200 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures around the country, the majority of which target transgender youth. Since Donald Trump became president, he has been systematically working to remove all rights from trans individuals.

Democrats have repeatedly been at the forefront of protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Last summer, our Democratic leaders announced that Connecticut was joining a multi-state effort to oppose the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act that would permit insurance companies to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. Last year, Connecticut’s Democratic majority legislature passed four major pieces of legislation to support the LGBTQ community that:

1. Prohibit people from justifying violence against LGBTQ individuals by saying they panicked when they found out about the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

2. Expands the definition of “family” in the Paid Family Medical Leave to be more inclusive for LGBTQ individuals.

3. Allows minors to access HIV preventative medication without parental consent.

4. Created a Bill of Rights for Adolescents in Foster Care which added protections for children regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2017, in response to the Trump administration’s formal rollback of guidance on protecting civil rights of transgender youth, Gov. Malloy signed an executive order which provides that in the absence of federal protections against discrimination, Connecticut law affords greater protections. He also sent a memo to all Connecticut superintendents in which he affirmed our schools’ obligations to protect our students from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.

Why are such laws and actions so important? In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign published the results of a national study on LGBTQ Youth. It found 70 percent of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation; over 50 percent based on gender expression or gender. Additionally, according to a 2019 CDC study, 35 percent of transgender students attempt suicide. To be clear, that is over one in three of our trans youth attempt suicide!

On a positive note, according to a study done by the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth who report having at least one adult in their life who accepts them for who they are were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.

Our state has been a leader in providing civil rights protections for the LGBT community, making Connecticut a kinder, more inclusive place to live. And while Connecticut already has codified gender identity and expression as a protected class, LGBTQ individuals are counting on the legislature to continue to codify additional steps into law to provide stronger civil rights protections.