LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Virginia:
There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide non-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people in Virginia. Public employees, state contractors, and subcontractors in Virginia are protected from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, via executive orders issued in 2014 and 2017.
State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why non-discrimination protections matter in Virginia. In January 2017 Governor Terry McAuliffe issued a broad executive order protecting LGBT public employees, state contractors, and subcontractors from discrimination, and a similar executive order was issued by Governor Ralph Northam in January 2018.
History of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Virginia:
- January 11, 2014: Governor Terry McAuliffe signs Executive Order 1 protecting state workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
- January 13, 2016: Lawmakers introduce Senate Bill 41, legislation that would codify discrimination against LGBT people. The bill is passed later in the legislative session by both chambers of the General Assembly.
- March 30, 2016: Following many months of action and advocacy from local groups – led by statewide LGBT organization Equality Virginia – Governor McAuliffe vetoes SB41. With the Virginia legislative session now ended with all anti-LGBT legislation defeated, significant momentum has been built toward non-discrimination in the future.
- April 19, 2016: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of a transgender teenager in Virginia who was prevented from using the restroom at his school matching his gender identity, overturning a negative lower court ruling, and setting the case up to be heard before the Supreme Court. The high Court stays the ruling and agrees to hear the case in October.
- August, 2016: The Supreme Court sends the Grimm case back to the lower district court, following the rescinding of Obama-era guidance on transgender students by the Trump administration.
- January 5, 2017: Governor Terry McAuliffe signs Executive Order 61 protecting state contractors and subcontractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- November 8, 2017: Danica Roem, the first openly transgender candidate to run for a state government seat, is elected to represent Virginia’s 13th Congressional District. She defeats incumbent Robert G. Marshall, who had previously introduced anti-transgender legislation that would have restricted bathroom access.
- January 17, 2018: Newly-elected Governor Ralph Northam signs Executive Order 1 into law, which adds gender identity to the list of protected categories in existing employment nondiscrimination law for government employees. Northam’s order also extends these protections to government contractors.
- January 26, 2018: Two bills, SB 202 and SB 423, pass in the Virginia Senate. SB 202 would enact statewide nondiscrimination protections in employment, and SB 423 would add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the state’s fair housing code. The bills move to the House of Delegates for final consideration and full passage.
- February 8, 2018: The House of Delegates kills all anti-discrimination legislation up for debate, following the lead of House Speaker Kirk Cox, who rushed a vote on the legislation in just under 24 hours.
- May 11, 2018: Gavin Grimm wins his case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, with Judge Arenda Wright-Allen’s ruling stating, “the Court concludes that Mr. Grimm has sufficiently pled a Title IX claim of sex discrimination under a gender stereotyping theory.”
- July 18, 2018: A new coalition, Virginia Beach For Fairness, announces its intention to work to pass comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections during the 2019 legislative session.
In 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe made it one of his first acts as governor to protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by signing Executive Order 1.
Municipalities with Non-Discrimination Protections:
The following municipalities protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:
- Arlington County
Last Updated July 19, 2018
Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board
Case Concerning Restroom Access for Transgender StudentsKey Date: August 12, 2019 • Ruling Issued in Favor of Plaintiff
Status: Appeal Pending before 4th Circuit
Legal Team: ACLU
Type: Discrimination Targeting Transgender Students
Gavin graduated from high school in June 2017 – but his case has not yet ended. The ACLU has continued to represent him, and on May 22 of 2018, a federal district court ruled that his Title IX claim had merit.Read More