November 4, 2013

As Congress considers action again, 21% of LGBT adults say they faced workplace discrimination

FT_Enda_DiscrimThe Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is a bill that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, with exemptions for small businesses and religious institutions. ENDA has often been put before Congress since the 1970s in some form, with the gender identity clause added in 2009.

It has never passed both houses of Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring it up again this week for a vote.

A Pew Research Center survey of 1,197 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults conducted this spring found that workplace discrimination is one of the most important policy issues in the LGBT community, with 57% of LGBT adults saying that equal employment rights should be a “top priority.”

When it comes to transgender respondents in the survey, there was too small a sample to generate statistically significant findings about their views as a group. But in an open ended question asking what were the most important problems facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people today, many of the transgender individuals surveyed brought up legal rights and discrimination. A 62-year old transgender respondent identified the most important problem as “equality in employment, housing and marriage.”

FT_LGBT_PersonalAlthough equal employment rights is seen as one of the top policy issues in the community, relatively few LGBT adults report experiencing workplace discrimination directly, compared with some other forms of discrimination and exclusion. About one-in-five (21%) say they have been treated unfairly by an employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, (5% say this happened within the past year and 16% report that this happened but not within the past year). The experiences of different groups in the LGBT community vary: 26% of gay men, 23% of lesbians and 15% of bisexuals say that they have been treated unfairly by an employer.

The LGBT population overall is more likely to earn a lower annual family income, with 39% earning less than $30,000 (compared with 28% of the U.S. general population) and 20% earning $75,000 or more (compared with 34% of the U.S. general population). This is likely due, in part, to the fact that the LGBT population tends to be younger than the general public and that they are less likely to live in family households, which usually earn more than other households.

Apart from discrimination in employment, the LGBT population says they have not yet achieved social acceptance. Some 39% of the general public says there is “a lot” of discrimination against gays and lesbians in our society today, compared with 53% saying the same among the LGBT community. Only 8% of LGBT adults say there is “only a little” discrimination or “none at all.”

Certain members of the LGBT community are seen as more accepted by society than others. Lesbians, bisexual women and gay men are generally seen as being more accepted (33% of LGBT adults say there is “a lot” of social acceptance for bisexual women, 25% for lesbians and 15% for gay men).

The community sees less acceptance for bisexual men and transgender people (only 8% say there is a lot of acceptance for bisexual men and 3% say the same about transgender people). On the other hand, large majorities of the LGBT population say that society is now more accepting of people who are LGBT compared with 10 years ago and also that society will be more accepting of people who are LGBT 10 years from now (92% for each).

Topics: Discrimination and Prejudice, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Social Values, Work and Employment

  1. is a Research Assistant with the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project and Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends project.

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4 Comments

  1. Brand6 months ago

    I have been asked why I have showed no particular bent and not revealed my private life a work.
    Yes, I am sure people have wondered/postulated, but been too socially adept to ask an intrusive question.
    During my career in health care, I only knew of two professionals to: 1) Be fired for inappropriate contact with a client.
    2) Become non-grata and be encouraged to leave a position after announcing her sexual orientation to staff at large.
    Unfortunately, a number of ill advised others (given the place and time) followed suit. No adult could think a door so easily opened would not close, and that he might be held to his words.
    So, now the times have changed; my council has not, “beware the jabberwocky”.

    Reply
  2. Art Mix6 months ago

    LGBT. You write all about it, but you never tell me what it stands for. How about Little Girls Basketball Team? Why not.
    Art Mix

    Reply
    1. J wILKES6 months ago

      Lettuce Bacon Tomator & Grey Poupon

      Reply
    2. Melinda Lockwood6 months ago

      Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered.

      Reply