Michigan’s Civil Rights Act Now Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On March 16, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed into law Public Act 6 of 2023, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act’s (ELCRA) list of protected classes. The ELCRA prohibits discrimination based on protected classes in employment, public accommodations and public services, educational facilities, housing, and real estate. This amendment becomes effective 91 days after the Legislature adjourns for the year.

This amendment should not require any immediate policy changes for schools. State and federal guidance and case law have consistently held that prohibitions against sex-based discrimination in Title VII, Title IX, and the ELCRA include sexual orientation and gender identity. For further discussion of this precedent, see our June 2022 School Law Notes article “2022 Update: Transgender Student Issues,” and our August 2022 School Law Notes article “Sexual Orientation Is Now Protected Under ELCRA.”

Schools should already have anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies in effect that prohibit sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. Most policy services already include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. We encourage you to review your school’s anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies to verify compliance with the ELCRA amendment. For Thrun Policy Subscribers, see Policies 3115 (Nondiscrimination and Retaliation), 3118 (Title IX Sexual Harassment), and 5202 (Unlawful Harassment), all of which already comply with the amendment.