NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Advocates say that Connecticut has been at the forefront of protecting LGBTQ rights — from being among the first to adopt nondiscrimination protections for gender identity and expression, to offering a nonbinary gender option for driver’s licenses.
Lenny Courtemanche, the director of global prevention, outreach and advocacy at Health Care Advocates International in Stratford, applauds the state’s efforts.
“We’re lucky to be in a state like Connecticut where driver’s licenses will now identify you as either M, F or X, for nonbinary,” Courtemanche said.
Courtemanche said that 521 people have chosen the X marker, which he said has “made a huge change in their lives.”
Connecticut also raised the transgender Pride flag over the state capitol in honor of Transgender Day of Visibility.
“I think for Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz to put a flag on top of the state capitol filled with light, you’ve now got a state that said, ‘Yeah, we see you, there’s no need to be ashamed,'” Courtemanche said.
The American Civil Liberties Union tracked a record-breaking 278 bills last year that the organization said target the LGBTQ community. Many of those surround transgender youth.
One of those was proposed by Connecticut Rep. Joe Hoxha (R-District 78). His proposal would “require public school educators to recognize each student by the biological gender of such student.”
“I believe that teachers and educators should not be able to affirm or encourage a child’s view that they may be a different gender, and I say that because when you’re at that age, you don’t have the capacity to make life-altering decisions, including changing your gender,” Hoxha said.
He said the conversations should be in parents’ hands.
Despite the proposal, Courtemanche said that Connecticut is affirming for the LGBTQ community.
“We are lucky to be in a state that is open-minded and a trailblazer in the road to acceptance,” Courtemanche said.