What Minnesota Protects

In 1993, the Minnesota Legislature amended the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) to prohibit many forms of discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The broad definition of “sexual orientation” in MHRA made it the nation’s first state civil rights law to protect transgender individuals from discrimination.

Defining “Sexual Orientation”

“Sexual orientation” is defined as “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness. “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.”

Discrimination Prohibited under MN Law

  1. Employment, including labor union membership
  2. Real property (housing)
  3. Public accommodations (such as theaters or restaurants)
  4. Public services (those provided by government)
  5. Education, including private, secular schools
  6. Credit
  7. Business contracting

Discrimination that Remains Legal

  1. Youth-serving agencies (employees or volunteers only)
  2. Duplex rentals
  3. Religious institutions (applies to education)
  4. Employment, housing/real property, or use of facilities, but not “secular business activities” 

Trainings & Consultations

We offer trainings and consultation on LGBTQ issues, provide referrals to legal professionals, assist attorneys on LGBTQ-related cases, represent the community in appellate courts, and work with public agencies on LGBTQ-sensitive policies. If you believe you have experienced discrimination in any of these areas, you can call the Minnesota Department of Human Rights at 651.296.5663 or 800.657.3704.

Cities with Human Rights Ordinances

Certain cities in Minnesota have their own human rights ordinance, with separate enforcement offices. In Saint Paul, please contact the Department of Human Rights at 651.266.8966; in Minneapolis, the Department of Civil Rights at 612.673.3012.

Claims of Discrimination

Under certain circumstances, LGBTQ workers—particularly transgender workers—may file a claim of discrimination under federal law, known as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  More information is available from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

These Legal Organizations Can Assist You!


American Civil Liberties Union

Provides information and resources for LGBTQ people and issues from a national perspective


Cornerstone Advocacy Services

Advocacy and shelter for victims of domestic violence; training and presentations addressing domestic and sexual violence in the LGBTQ community


Gender Justice

Supporting gender non-conforming and trans* legal issues


Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund (LLDEF)

Midwest regional office in Chicago; National organization defending LGBTQ rights in the legal system


Minnesota Lavender Bar Association

Association of LGBTQ and ally lawyers, other legal professionals, and law students


National Center for Lesbian Rights

Legal center devoted to advancing the rights and safety of LGBTQ people and their families



Legal services for victims of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy


Transgender Law and Policy Institute

Supporting law and policy initiatives to improve trans* equality


Transgender Law Center

National trans-led organization grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation


Tubman Center

Provides safe shelter, legal services, mental and chemical health counseling, elder abuse resources, youth programming and community education, including public information campaigns to provide community members the information and support they need to get help or give help

Increasingly, same-sex couples are raising children, and this has legal implications.

Though Minnesota permits marriage between two people regardless of their sex, some couples prefer not to marry for political, cultural, economic, or other reasons.

A “health care directive” permits the person(s) you designate to make critical medical decisions on your behalf, often including the ultimate decisions about your medical care and even withholding food or water under certain circumstances

As of August 2013, Minnesota joined those states allowing same-sex couples to marry on the same terms as different-sex couples

A “partnership agreement” is a contract between two people in a committed, but usually unmarried, relationship which makes clear the nature of that relationship and the rights and responsibilities of the partners>

A power of attorney is your written authorization that another person is able to act in your name in certain types of transactions, and under certain circumstances or with limitations you establish ahead of time

If a couple chooses not to pursue legal adoption, they can still take other steps to protect the relationship between the child and the non-biological parent

Minnesota law recognizes families formed through marriage, blood, and adoption

One of the most important documents many people want to have list their correct sex is their birth record.

The process of legally changing your name is fairly straightforward and generally does not require an attorney.

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services has two options for changing the sex information listed on one’s driver’s license or similar card

Transition services and health insurance coverage


A variety of conditions that lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics are collectively referred to as intersex conditions. These conditions can involve abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes or sex-related hormones.

Getting a new passport

Trans people and restroom access

Changing your social security record (see Part B)

The federal Equal Access Act (20 USC 4071 et seq.) mandates that under certain circumstances, students who wish to create or run a GSAs (“Gay-Straight Alliances” or “Gender and Sexuality Alliances”) have the legal right to do so

In recent years, several Minnesota school districts have adopted “gender inclusion policies,” which articulate a district’s planned approach to accommodating the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming students

In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Education, working with the Department of Human Rights, released its Transgender Toolkit, a booklet outlining a series of best-practice recommendations for schools working to address the concerns confronting transgender and gender-nonconforming students

Information for LGBTQ Students: State and federal law offer lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender/gender-conforming students protection from discrimination and harassment in their schools

In 2014, the Minnesota State High School League approved a policy allowing transgender/gender-nonconforming students to establish their eligibility to play on the team corresponding to their lived gender

Federal law also protects Minnesota trans students. Title IX prohibits discrimination in federally-funded public schools on the basis of "sex" (See: 20 USC § 1681)

For trans students applying to colleges, very confusing questions can arise surrounding financial aid