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
- Employment, including labor union membership
- Real property (housing)
- Public accommodations (such as theaters or restaurants)
- Public services (those provided by government)
- Education, including private, secular schools
- Business contracting
Discrimination that Remains Legal
- Youth-serving agencies (employees or volunteers only)
- Duplex rentals
- Religious institutions (applies to education)
- 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.
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What are Pronouns?
Pronouns are helpful tools in language that allow us to refer to someone without having to use their name. They help us identify people, but often the pronouns we use have gendered associations. These associations can be harmful when used to identify someone in the wrong way.
Making assumptions about what pronouns someone uses means you can mistake their gender and send harmful messages or make someone feel unsafe and unwelcome. Making these assumptions sends the wrong message that someone must look a certain way or act a certain way to be respected. That is why it is super important that the pronouns we use for our friends, family, loved ones and even strangers are the right pronouns for them.
At OutFront we introduce ourselves with our pronouns to break down these assumptions and let people know that we want to create a space that is as safe and welcoming as possible. Asking someone what pronouns they use is a simple way to learn the most respectful way to refer to them. By leading with your own pronouns you can help make any space feel more inclusive!
Here's a few types of pronouns*
- He went to the park | I saw him yesterday | That jacket is his
- She went to the park | I saw her yesterday | That Jacket is hers
- They went to the park | I saw them yesterday | That jacket is theirs
- Ze went to the park | I saw hir yesterday | That jacket is hirs
- Sounds like: (zee) | (heer) | (heers)
*This list isn't exhaustive. You should always ask someone what pronouns they use.
Additional Steps to Take
Another helpful way to ensure people feel safe being themselves around you and ensure that your pronouns are respected is to include them in your email signature. We do this at OutFront. Here's what that could look like:
You can also include pronouns on your business cards.
So next time you head into a meeting try starting off introductions by asking people to share names and pronouns with the group!