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LGBT Community: Unemployment & Workplace Discrimination

Updated on August 28, 2016
Orlando Shooting
Orlando Shooting | Source

Violence Faced by the LGBT Community

On June 12, 2016, a 29-year-old man opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Within a few minutes, Omar Mateen had killed 49 people and injured 53 others, most of whom were in their 20s. Such hate crimes against the LGBT community is not uncommon, although the scale may be less than the Orlando shooting.

Violence against people from the LGBT community is on the rise. According to figures released by the FBI, out of the 5,922 single bias incidents reported in 2013, around 20.8% were hate crimes based on sexuality. The crime rate is even higher against people of color who belong to this community. Around 50% of transgender women of color are victims of homicide, according to a report published by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

LGBT Discrimination
LGBT Discrimination

Unemployment Issues

Apart from being the victims of constant bullying and violence, another major problem faced by the LGBT community is discrimination in employment. According to research conducted by The William Institute, poverty and unemployment rates for LGBT adults are higher than their heterosexual counterparts. Apart from the regular socioeconomic challenges of gender, age and race, this community has the added challenge of their sexual orientation.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual adults record 40% higher unemployment than the national average, according to a study published by the American Progress. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reports that the numbers are even worse for transgender workers, whose rate of unemployment is almost double the rate of the non-transgender workforce.

Study Results: Adverse Employment Actions due to Sexual Orientation
Study Results: Adverse Employment Actions due to Sexual Orientation | Source

Unemployment is Higher for LGBT People of Color

According to an article in Bloomberg BNA in 2013, there were an estimated 1.8 million workers of color who belonged to the LGBT community.

“While it can be hard to identify exactly how the forces of bias and prejudice based on race, sexual orientation and gender identity intersect, the fact is that they do so to the detriment of LGBT workers of color, making them some of the most disadvantaged workers in the U.S. workforce,” the Denver-based Movement Advancement Project said in the report.

Unemployment among Transgenders of Color
Unemployment among Transgenders of Color | Source

Workplace Discrimination

Even for those who do find employment, there is little respite due to discrimination and bullying in the workplace. A 2013 study conducted by Pew Research Center found that 56% of LGBT adults felt that they were treated unfairly by their employers because of their sexual orientations.

The most worrying aspect is that only 21 states in America offer LGBT workers protection with employment nondiscrimination laws, say experts at IPG Councelling. More than half of LGBT adults live in states that do not by law prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity. This means that companies can fire employees based on the reason that they have been identified as transgender.

Moreover, the average annual income of LGBT workers is much less than that of regular US workers, resulting in higher homelessness, poor health and food insecurity among this community.

LGBT Discrimination Laws in the US

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