A big part of governing an inclusive state is continually listening to all Vermonters - especially those who have been historically disregarded. My administration will work closely with the Pride Center, Outright Vermont, our college and university LGBTQA centers and programs, and other experts. With their help, we will apply the most contemporary advocacy into the daily workings of state government. This includes the following:
Appoint LGBTQA people to more positions in state government. LGBTQA representation throughout state government is essential in building not only an inclusive government but an inclusive state in general. I will strive to appoint LGBTQA people to roles throughout my administration. Going hand in hand with this is implementing increased training of state workers in issues relating to contemporary gender politics. And lastly, my administration will commit to providing direct lines of access to senior gubernatorial staff and an open door policy.
Give adoption and foster care agencies updated, comprehensive guidance on preventing discrimination in adoption and foster care. Extending to both families looking to adopt and children in the foster care system, this guidance would clarify that placement agencies may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (in addition to other common protections).
Extend Jury Non-Discrimination Protections. Although federal law and court cases prevent discrimination against jurors and potential jurors on the basis of race and other categories, it is not clear that those protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity in all states. Vermont has not codified this issue, and so we should either pass legislation or issue guidance from the Vermont Supreme Court that discrimination in jury selection is prohibited.
Improve Health Coverage for Transition-Related Care. Vermont can make two administrative-level changes which will greatly improve healthcare coverage for trans residents. First, we can ensure that state employee health benefits cover transition-related care. Second, we can have the Department of Vermont Health Access issue guidance that clarifies that state Medicaid does cover transition-related care for trans* people.
Extend Hate Crimes Laws to Include Reporting Requirements. Pass legislation or agency-level guidance to require that municipalities report hate crimes data to the Vermont Office of the Attorney General and to ensure that such data is submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Address LGBTQA Youth Homelessness. Although up to 40% of unaccompanied homeless youth identify as LGBTQA and such youth are frequently denied service or face discrimination by service providers, most states have not passed laws or policies to address and support this demographic. Vermont legislators must pass legislation that requires training for service providers and shelters, and accurate data collection to ensure these at-risk individuals receive the help they need.
Make Sex Education LGBTQA Inclusive. Although Vermont includes sex education in elementary and secondary schools as part of its comprehensive health program, there is currently not a requirement that such education is LGBTQA inclusive or that it covers LGBTQA issues in a non-discriminatory way. Pass legislation or administrative guidance to clarify that such sex education should be inclusive and non-discriminatory.
Require gender non-assigned bathrooms in workplaces and public spaces. While Vermont has previously introduced legislation to require that single occupancy restrooms (that is, a restroom meant to allow for only one user at a time) be gender neutral, such legislation did not move forward. While such legislation would benefit trans people, who frequently face discrimination and harassment in restrooms, it would also benefit women, families with young children, caregivers, and people with disabilities. Safety and comfort in these spaces is a right for all Vermonters.