Expanding the Fight for Equality: The LGBTQ Community and Housing Discrimination

Session type
General credits
Ethics credits
Total credits
Credit status
Pending Approval
Cost notes

Free for Legal Aid volunteers!


This CLE will provide an overview of fair housing law and discrimination based on LGBTQ status. This presentation will highlight zealous representation of members of the LGBTQ community with a panel discussion of community experiences. The program will also discuss the expansion of fair housing protections to the LGBTQ community after Bostock v. Clayton as well as look at the defenses under the federal religious exemptions. This presentation will be ideal for attorneys representing clients in fair housing discrimination cases.


9:00 AM – 9:15 AM*

Zealous Representation and Community Experiences
9:15 AM – 10:45 AM

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM*

Expanding Fair Housing Protections to the LGBTQ Community
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

* Introduction and break are not reportable for CLE Credit


Alexander Blades
They/Them, Raleigh community resident

Vanity Reid Deterville
She/Her, Program Director, Gender Resource Advocacy & Support Programs, LGBTQ Center of Durham

Vanity Reid Deterville is a recent graduate of the College of Charleston. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science major concentrating in Public Policy and is a native of Charleston, S.C. As a West Indian descent transgender woman of color from the South, she stands at the intersections of the LGBTQ+ and Black communities and has asserted how she must approach spaces and social issues with a very critical perspective. As an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, she is ending a two-term board member position as the Charleston Pride Director of Diversity from 2018-2020. She served as a Senior Undergraduate Assistant at the Avery Research Center for African American History and culture in the Spring of 2020. On January 13, 2020, she was featured on CNN’s “New Day” morning segment for their inaugural “Pulse of the People” voter’s panel on which she offered her criticisms and support of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in order to exercise her political knowledge beyond the classroom walls. As a facilitator in the "Transformative Teaching Collective'' she stands by restorative and healing justice, social change and professional development for marginalized communities like the LGBTQ community and communities of color. She has recently transitioned into the nonprofit workforce as the new Gender Resource Advocacy and Support Programs (GRASP) Program Director at the LGBTQ Center of Durham, North Carolina.

Charly Gilfoil
She/Her, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid NC-Durham

Charly Gilfoil is a Staff Attorney with the Medical-Legal Partnership program of Legal Aid of North Carolina in Durham. In this role, she provides free legal resources and consultations for patients of medical partners around Durham, including those at El Futuro, Lincoln Community Health Center, and Duke Pediatrics. She also represents clients in various matters in District and Superior Court and proceedings in front of Social Security and the Department of Social Services. She is committed to prioritizing access to social supports for those most endangered by our current systems. Charly earned a J.D. with honors from Georgetown University Law Center in 2018. While at Georgetown, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law and represented clients as part of the Civil Rights Clinic. She is an active member of the D.C. and North Carolina Bar.

Alison Gill
She/Her, Vice President, Legal & Policy, American Atheists

Alison Gill manages American Atheists’ federal and state advocacy for religious equality and litigation activities to protect the separation of religion and government. Alison is a nationally recognized expert on civil rights law and state advocacy. Prior to her work with American Atheists, Alison worked as a consultant to nonprofits focusing on advocacy strategy and systemic change and as Senior Legislative Counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, where she managed state-level advocacy on issues such as conversion therapy, bullying prevention, education discrimination, health and wellness, youth homelessness, and data collection.

Reverend Debra J. Hopkins
She/Her, Founding Director, There’s Still Hope

Rev. Debra J. Hopkins is the Founding Pastor of Essentials for Life Ministries, an online ministry that continues to focus on love and acceptance. She’s the author of her new book “Not Until You Have Walked In My Shoes'' currently found on Amazon.com, and the Founder & Executive Director of There's Still Hope. A trans-led nonprofit organization that provides temporary shelter for homeless transgender adults and victims of domestic violence in Mecklenburg County. Debra also spent time traveling around the country advocating for the underserved people of our LGBTQIA communities, facilitating workshops as an inspirational-motivational speaker and teacher, along with participating in educational conferences and town hall discussions throughout the year. She is also a frequent speaker at colleges and universities in North Carolina. As an activist, Debra believes “words have POWER” and she believes we can all be a real “voice for change” through action, activism, and community involvement that will help put an end to the social and economic discrimination that's ever present in this country.

Crystal M. Richardson
She/Her, Law Office of Crystal M. Richardson PLLC

Attorney Crystal M. Richardson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Political Science.  She is also a graduate of the Charlotte School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree with Pro Bono Honors. Attorney Richardson was licensed in 2013 and is a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar. Attorney Crystal Richardson grew up in Charlotte, where she served as a board member of several organizations including: MeckPAC, the Human Rights Campaign, and Leading on Opportunity Council. She also worked for four years at Equality North Carolina as the Director of Advocacy, where she advocated for inclusiveness and non-discrimination policy updates to local and state laws. Currently, Attorney Richardson is active in advocating for the passage of the CROWN Act in North Carolina. She serves on the board for the Pauli Murray Bar LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the NCBA Estate Planning and Fiduciary Committee.

Ames Simmons
He/Him, Policy Director, Equality North Carolina

Ames Simmons is a queer white trans man serving as Equality NC’s Policy Director and as Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School. His work is rooted in community-based efforts prioritizing anti-violence, anti-oppression and transgender justice. Ames is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and Georgia. He also serves on Legal Aid of North Carolina's Local Advisory Committee in Durham. 

Amy Whelan
She/Her, Senior Staff Attorney, National Center for Lesbian Rights

Amy Whelan has been a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) since 2011 and works on NCLR’s full range of litigation, policy, and public education work. Amy litigates complex civil cases around the country regarding marriage equality, employment discrimination, Title IX, family law, access to healthcare, prisoners’ civil rights, the First Amendment, and other constitutional matters. Amy represented the mother of a transgender teenager who was subjected to severe discrimination during an inpatient stay, resulting in a landmark opinion holding that discrimination based on a person’s transgender identity is sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act. Amy also represents Adree Edmo, a transgender woman housed in the Idaho Department of Corrections who was denied gender affirming surgery despite her desperate need for that care. NCLR, along with co-counsel, obtained an order finding that the denial of care violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and requiring prison officials to provide the surgery. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review. In July 2020, Ms. Edmo became the second person in the country to receive court-ordered surgery in prison. Amy also represents Mary Walsh and Bev Nance in their litigation against a senior living facility that denied them housing because they are a same-sex couple. Before joining NCLR, Amy was an associate at the San Francisco firm of Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP. In 2008 and 2009, Amy was a member of the trial team in Coleman/Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a combined lawsuit challenging the California prison system’s unconstitutional provision of medical and mental healthcare because of severe overcrowding. A unanimous three-judge panel ruled in favor of the prisoners in that case and the United States Supreme Court affirmed that decision in 2011. Amy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and her Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law.


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