Employment Discrimination Against LGBT Community

7 Aug

Equality in the Workplace

I want to thank my friend Allison Cleveland for inspiring me to write this story.  She is such a consistent champion for human rights!  The Williams Institute just published a report that addresses Employment Discrimination and Its Effects on LGBT People. I, for one, am very grateful to have documented evidence of what I and others have experienced.

Before I get to the actual report, allow me to relay just a couple of incidents that I experienced in the past 20 years.  Many years ago I was teaching a history class and the conversation around civil rights came up.  Several of the African-American girls started to quote bible verses and said that “gays had no right to talk about civil rights.” I questioned the entire class and encouraged them to think outside of their religious beliefs and think about what civil rights meant and why should gays be denied civil rights.  The next day, a father of one of those girls cornered me in an office and stood over me with his bible in hand and started to yell at me about how I was an abomination and that I would burn in hell.  (Hmm, who would Jesus hate?)

Many years later, I was teaching a Student Success Class at a small university in Oregon.  I had a Mormon colleague there who felt compelled to come into my office and tell me: “I don’t hate you, but I do hate your sin and I want you to know I pray for you.” Really?  Really? You are going to pray for me?  All I could think was: “You are wearing double knit polyester–you need my prayers more than I need yours.”  Needless to say, my stint at the university was not a good fit; it was not a safe environment for the LGBT community.

After reading the report from the Williams Institute, I felt both sad and validated. I was not alone in being discriminated against. Unfortunately, every time I had something bad happen to me because of sexual orientation, I usually blamed myself and would, for the longest time, try to return to the closet and “butch it up,” as much as I was able.

Here is the summary of the report:

Although sexual orientation and gender identity have no relationship to workplace performance, during the past four decades a large body of research using a variety of methodologies has consistently documented high levels of discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people at work.  Evidence of discrimination has been reviewed and summarized in two recent reports by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law: a 2009 report focused on discrimination in the public sector and a 2007 report focused on employment discrimination in the private sector.  This review excerpts key findings from those reports and updates those findings with results from recent studies.  In addition, it presents for the first time, data documenting discrimination against LGB employees from the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS), a national probability survey representative of the U.S. population.

I also found this graph to be helpful:

As a matter of safety, I would strongly encourage my LGBT sisters and brothers to look at both non-discrimination clauses and diversity statements when applying for jobs.  Hopefully you live in a state where sexual orientation is a protected class, if not get out and vote.  Here is where the personal is political!  Click here to see the full report.  This report nicely dovetails with the recent USA Today article: Crimes against LGBT community are up, despite social gains.  The article addresses increased violence against people in the LGBT community.

2 Responses to “Employment Discrimination Against LGBT Community”

  1. Tori Weddell Stephenson August 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    I’m so impressed that you were able to hold your tongue with this people! I know in the past when I’ve experienced ignorance like that I’ve not been as successful and actually was once sent to the principal’s office in Texas after (albeit, slightly losing my temper) at a teacher who told me the world “lesbian” was offensive in his classroom.
    I’m continually frustrated at the circumstances surrounding this issue. One of the best English teachers I’ve had was not out in our high school, but those of us close to him knew his partner and son at our school (though the son was his “nephew” who lived with them). He was asked to leave mid-semester, despite having been at the school for at least a decade and having received many accolades for his tremendous skill. I was infuriated.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

      Tori, As I knew when you were in the sixth grade, you are destined to make the world a better place–it is who you are! Thank you for sharing the story of your English teacher. It is horribly sad, but it is important that stories like his are shared and known, so that we don’t continue to discriminate against the LGBT community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: