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The LGBTQI+ Working Group is a policy and enforcement-related working group that addresses important or emerging civil rights issues affecting certain LGBTQI+ communities that may not be adequately addressed under existing authority by any single Section or span the work of multiple Sections. The Working Group is comprised of members from every Civil Rights Division Section and has four subcommittees:

Litigation & Enforcement

The Litigation and Enforcement subcommittee monitors litigation and administrative enforcement actions impacting LGBTQI+ communities, with a focus on federal civil rights litigation brought under the U.S. Constitution and statutes and regulations the Division enforces. The subcommittee supports the work of the Division by harnessing the substantive expertise of Division attorneys and support staff to successfully combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their respective Sections within the Division. The subcommittee also serves in a consulting role to Section and Division leadership on strategic litigation and enforcement efforts, including statewide litigation and interagency enforcement initiatives.


The Outreach subcommittee develops proactive outreach plans and strategies designed to engage LGBTQI+ communities and LGBTQI+-serving organizations. The subcommittee also facilitates Division outreach to other federal, state, and local agencies serving LGBTQI+ communities by providing training and materials on LGBTQI+ issues to those agencies. The subcommittee conducts and facilitates internal Division trainings on LGBTQI+ issues as well. The Outreach subcommittee develops contacts to gather information about community events, issues, and cases. The subcommittee also works to assist the Division’s efforts to provide consistent messaging on LGBTQI+ issues by coordinating with the Front Office and broader Working Group, updating the website, developing or updating publicly disseminated materials, and identifying major conferences and events where Division representatives can make presentations on LGBTQI+ issues.

Government Policy & Regulations

The Government Policy and Regulations subcommittee is primarily tasked with tracking developments in federal policy, regulation, and legislation impacting LGBTQI+ communities. The subcommittee will monitor Federal agency administrative actions (e.g. issuance of guidance, and regulation promulgation) and any related Administrative Procedure Act litigation. The subcommittee serves as a resource to the broader Working Group and Front Office by providing current information regarding the actions of DOJ’s sister agencies to promote consistent policy across the federal family and interagency coordination. The subcommittee supports the vigorous enforcement of federal civil rights protections through working with Sections within the Division as well as federal agency partners to convene meetings to address strategy, opportunities for collaboration, and general information sharing.

Criminal Legal System

The Criminal Legal System subcommittee works on addressing the unique harms experienced by LGBTQI+ individuals in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities, as well as at the hands law enforcement. The subcommittee also explores how federal criminal laws against hate crimes and human trafficking can better serve the needs of LGBTQI+ populations. The subcommittee conducts outreach with LGBTQI+-serving organizations, supports the work of the Division in combatting mistreatment of LGBTQI+ individuals in the criminal legal system, and works with other Department components to enhance protections for LGBTQI+ individuals in the criminal legal system.

The Working Group and its various subcommittees meet regularly to discuss civil rights issues affecting the LGBTQI+ community, as well as persons living with HIV/AIDS. Topics addressed by the Working Group include discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, federal policies and legislation affecting the LGBTQI+ community and persons living with HIV/AIDS, discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status, discrimination in prisons and juvenile facilities, and discrimination against intersex individuals. The Working Group regularly engages in outreach with the LGBTQI+ community and other relevant stakeholders on these issues and on the work of the Division.

Over the past several years, the Working Group and its members have sought to protect and advance the civil rights of LGBTQI+ individuals through investigations and litigation, as well as through outreach and education efforts. For more information about the Division's efforts to protect the civil rights of LGBTQI+ individuals, please visit our news and documents pages.

Fighting Discrimination Against LGBTQI+ Individuals

The Division enforces a number of laws that prohibit various forms of discrimination in education, employment, housing, police practices, the juvenile justice system, state and local institutions (jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities for persons with disabilities), and Department-funded programs. These laws protect all people (including LGBTQI+ individuals) from sex-based discrimination, which can include discrimination based on sex stereotyping or a person's nonconformity with stereotypes associated with that person's real or perceived gender.


The Division enforces Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (among other factors) in public schools, colleges, and universities. The Division, in partnership with the Department of Education, also enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs and activities. Both laws prohibit discrimination, based on a student's sex (including nonconformity with gender stereotypes). This includes when schools, colleges, and universities fail to respond to known student-on-student and staff-on-student sex-based harassment or deny students equal access to the school’s educational programs and benefits based on sex.

The Division's Educational Opportunities Section has brought lawsuits and entered into settlement agreements with educational institutions to protect the rights of LGBTQI+ students who experienced discrimination, including harassment.

For more information, visit the Educational Opportunities Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website.


The Division enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against public employers. Title VII prohibits:

  • Discrimination in the workplace because of sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), including in recruitment, hiring, assignments and promotions, and pay and benefits
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation

What might workplace discrimination look like?

  • An employee is harassed by his coworkers with negative statements or jokes referencing his sexual orientation.  He complains to his supervisors who fail to take appropriate action and the harassment continues.
  • A transgender employee informs her supervisor that she is transitioning to live consistent with her gender identity and asks to be referred to by female pronouns.  She also requests to be permitted to use the women’s restroom. The employer refuses her requests, explains that if she presents as female it will make other employees and the public uncomfortable, and threatens to fire her if she presents as female at work.

DOJ may enforce Title VII from either (1) referred charges from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); or (2) from our self-starting pattern or practice authority.

The EEOC investigates allegations of employment discrimination by private employers. The EEOC processes complaints of discrimination against transgender individuals and on the basis of sexual orientation as sex discrimination complaints. To file a complaint, contact the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY).

For more information, visit the Employment Litigation Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website. If you believe an employer has discriminated or retaliated against you in violation of Title VII, make a complaint as soon as possible. There are strict time limits for filing complaints of employment discrimination and retaliation for both public and private employees.


The Division enforces the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), and the Housing Rights subpart of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA).

The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing, including on the basis of sex and disability (which includes HIV/AIDS status). The FHA prohibits discrimination by direct providers of housing, such as landlords, as well as other entities, including municipalities and homeowners associations, whose discriminatory housing practices make housing unavailable by failing to rent or sell, providing differing housing services, and making statements indicating a preference or non-preference because of person’s protected class. 

ECOA prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of a protected class, which includes sex. Where the discrimination involves a home mortgage loan or home improvement loan, we are able to file suit under both the FHA and ECOA.

VAWA provides housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking with respect to covered housing programs and protects an individual’s right to seek law enforcement or emergency assistance without penalty when they are a victim or otherwise not at fault.

The DOJ’s Fair Housing Testing Program is a specialized unit of the Division that uses covert testing to uncover discrimination in access to housing, lending, and places of public accommodation. The Fair Housing Testing Program may conduct testing for discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.

To file a housing discrimination complaint, visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity's website here or call 1-800-669-9777 or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY). To file a lending discrimination complaint, visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's website here or call 1-855-411-2372 or 1- 855-729-2372 (TTY).

For more information, visit the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website.

Safeguarding Equal Access to Healthcare

On March 31, 2022, DOJ issued a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination, including when those youth seek gender-affirming care. The letter advises states that laws and policies that prevent individuals from receiving gender-affirming medical care may infringe on federal constitutional protections under the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The letter also discusses federal statutes that impose nondiscrimination obligations, including Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letter was issued on the International Transgender Day of Visibility in recognition of the contributions and accomplishments of transgender and gender non-conforming people, as well as their continued struggle to live free from violence and discrimination.

DOJ has filed statements of interest and amicus briefs in cases where state law prohibits the provision of “gender transition procedures” to minors, and has intervened to challenge laws criminalizing certain forms of gender affirming medical care for transgender minors. It has also prosecuted an individual for threatening a doctor because they provided care for members of the transgender community.

For more information, visit the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website.

Defending the Constitutional Rights of People in Institutions

The Division has authority under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) to investigate constitutional violations in state or local prisons, juvenile detention centers, nursing facilities, and other institutions. Examples of constitutional violations include the failure of prison officials to protect LGBTQI+ inmates from violence, the denial of certain kinds of medical treatment to individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria (formerly referred to as Gender Identity Disorder or GID), and unjustified segregation of LGBTQI+ individuals.

For more information, visit the Special Litigation Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website.

Prosecuting Hate Crimes

The Division enforces the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which criminalizes acts of violence that cause bodily injury (and attempts to do so with a dangerous weapon) when motivated by a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability (including HIV/AIDS), if the offense is in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

To report a hate crime, contact your local Federal Bureau of Investigation field office.

For more information, visit the Criminal Section website or the Division's How to File a Complaint website.

Protecting the Rights of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, Intersex Conditions, and Gender Dysphoria

The Division enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities, including persons with HIV/AIDS (either symptomatic or asymptomatic), intersex conditions, and gender dysphoria. The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment, state and local government services, and public accommodations (i.e. private businesses and non-profits that provide goods and services to the public).

Under the ADA, an individual is considered to have a “disability” if the individual is substantially limited in a major life activity or major bodily function. This guarantees equal opportunity for persons with HIV/AIDS (either symptomatic or asymptomatic), as well as persons regarded as having HIV/AIDS and persons or entities associated with a person with HIV/AIDS. The ADA also covers most of the over three dozen intersex conditions, including, for example, substantial limitations in the major life activity of reproduction or the major bodily function of the endocrine system. Gender dysphoria has also been found to qualify as a disability, extending the ADA’s protections to transgender people experiencing gender dysphoria.

For more information or to file a complaint, visit or call 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).

For more information, visit the Disability Rights Section website or visit the Division's How to File a Complaint website.

Ending Law Enforcement Misconduct

The Department enforces 34 U.S.C. 12601 (Section 12601), which prohibits a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution or federal law. The Department can also use the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to address discriminatory policing.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act allows the Department to review the practices of law enforcement agencies that may be violating people’s federal rights. The Safe Streets Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

  • The Department may act if we find a pattern or practice by a law enforcement agency that systemically violates people’s rights.
  • The problems addressed in our cases have included use of excessive force; unlawful stops, searches, or arrests; and discriminatory policing.

Several of the Department’s consent decrees entered under Section 12601 include protections for LGBTQI+ people, including the decrees covering the New Orleans Police Department and the Baltimore Police Department. Both of these agencies have instituted policies regarding officers’ interactions with LGBTQI+ people, and both agencies have trained officers on terminology, respectful treatment, and related issues.

In addition, in May of 2022, the Department updated and reissued gender-biased policing guidance (originally issued in 2015) on identifying and preventing gender bias in law enforcement responses to sexual assault and domestic violence. The guidance, using case examples, advises LEAs to incorporate eight principles into clear policies, robust training, effective supervision, and strong accountability systems.

This guidance notes that “Gender-based violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence, are crimes that disproportionately harm women and girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals in the United States.” The guidance also cautions law enforcement officers about how biases may impact their work with LGBTQI+ victims: “Officers should be particularly vigilant about not responding differently to victims based on biases about particular subgroups of victims, such as victims of color, victims who have limited English proficiency, victims who are LGBTQI+, victims with criminal histories, or victims with disabilities.”

Shaping Federal Civil Rights Laws

The Division also files amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," briefs in cases in the federal courts of appeals to advise on issues involving the interpretation or application of one of the federal civil rights laws mentioned above, including in cases involving the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals.

For more information, visit the Appellate Section's website. For information on how to suggest a federal appellate case as a candidate for amicus curiae participation by the Division, visit the Appellate Section's Amicus Curiae Program website.

Updated February 14, 2024