We’ve been over it before, bringing change from bathrooms to boardrooms. However, a recent study by UCLA’s school of law and the Williams Institute found nearly one in ten LGBTQ employees have faced job discrimination in the last year. 

Let’s review the facts from the other queer professionalism article back in February: 

  • 4.5% of the U.S. population is LGBTQ+
  • 77 countries prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K.
  • As of 2020, 93% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation
    • 91% have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity
    • 53% include domestic partner benefits
    • 65% include transgender-inclusive benefits
    • Fewer than 0.3% of Fortune 500 board members were LGBTQI in 2020
  • 59% of non-LGBTQ employees believe it is “unprofessional” to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace
  • 46% of LGBTQ employees in the U.S. are closeted in the workplace
  • 1/5 of LGBTQ Americans have experience discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs

This study, one of the first reviewing LGBTQ workplace discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic, outlines “lifetime, five-year and past-year experiences of discrimination among LGBT employees.” It is also among the first studies to review this a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Bostock v. Clayton County, in which employment discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

NBC Out grabbed from the study that “46 percent of LGBTQ workers reported receiving unfair treatment at some point in their careers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity — including being passed over for a job, harassed at work, denied a promotion or raise, excluded from company events, denied additional hours or fired.”

Just the (new) numbers:

  • There are approximately 8.1 million LGBTQ workers over 16 in the U.S., 3.9 million of which live in states without anti-discrimination laws protecting their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 31.1% of LGBTQ employees reported experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace in the last five years.
  • 8.9% of employed LGBTQ workers report being fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the last year. This includes 11.3% of BIPOC LGBTQ employees and 6.5% white LGBTQ employees.
  • 57% of LGBT employees who experienced discrimination or harassment at work reported that their employer or co-workers did or said something to indicate that the unfair treatment that they experienced was motivated by religious beliefs.”
  • 63.5% LGBTQ employees of color said their harassment in the workplace was religiously motivated, compared to 49.4% of white LGBTQ employees. 
  • 48.8% of transgender employees reported experiencing discrimination (being fired or not hired) based on their LGBT status compared to 27.8% of cisgender LGB employees.”
  • 67.5% of LGBTQ employees have heard slurs, jokes or negative comments while at work.
  • 50.4% of LGBTQ employees are not out to their current supervisor and 25.8% are not out to any of their coworkers. 

On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order “directing any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

And in the same NBC Out article, some LGBTQ employees recall being slapped or told they were going to hell or were “an abomination.” 

Though the sample size of 935 does not widely represent the wider LGBTQ workforce in the U.S., it can be interpreted that disparities remain. But a new bill hitting U.S. legislation this year, the Equality Act, can change everything. 

Noting a lack of full LGBTQ equity in 29 states nationwide and the lack of federal non-discrimination law, “millions of Americans can be denied housing, education, credit and more just because of who they are or whom they love,” the White House website reads. “In states across the country, LGBTQ Americans can get married on Sunday, and denied a rental lease on Monday.”

The Equality Act will help protect LGBTQ Americans who face discrimination. As such, this treatment of LGBTQ folks is “detrimental to (their) physical health and safety, especially transgender women of color.” The bill, if passed, would also “expand public accommodations protections for people of color, women and people of faith.

“The Equality Act would also strengthen civil rights protections for other protected groups, including people of color, women, people with disabilities and people of faith by expanding where non-discrimination protection protections apply to public accommodations,” including access to shared facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms. 

Congress.gov cites the bill’s expansions of public accommodations to include “places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.”

For more information, the Center for American Progress has a simplistic overview of the bill as well. 

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