LGBT people of color are the most disadvantaged workers in the US, according to a new report released last week by the Movement Advancement Project, Center for American Progress, Freedom to Work, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Black Justice Coalition.
The report, entitled A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color, details how LGBT people of color, who live at the intersections of various marginalized identities in the US, face unique barriers to employment and education. Inequality, lack of workplace protections, and violence and discrimination in schools all contribute to high rates of poverty and unemployment for many LGBT workers of color.
“Contrary to popular stereotypes, LGBT workers are more racially diverse than the general population, making it critical to address the unique obstacles they face,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition. “Bias and prejudice based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression intersect to the detriment of LGBT workers of color.”
According to the report, LGBT youth of color often face multiple forms of harassment at school, have fewer support systems, and are at greater risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline [see PDF]. At work, LGBT people of color experience higher rates of discrimination and are less likely to have adequate mentors. Discriminatory immigration and tax laws as well as unequal job benefits, including lack of appropriate forms of family leave, also disadvantage LGBT workers of color.
The report makes several concrete recommendations to achieve workplace equality. In particular, the authors recommend that Congress pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act to help LGBT students feel safer at school. National laws to ban employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression and sexual orientation should be implemented at the federal, state and local levels. In addition, efforts should be taken by Congress and state lawmakers to protect against wage discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
“While there are laws in place to help protect workers from discrimination based on race and ethnicity, it is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in the majority of states,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at CAP.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) which would protect people from discrimination because of gender identity or sexual orientation in the work place. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), however, has opposed the legislation.
Media Resources: Center for American Progress 11/14/13; A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color November 2013; Feminist Newswire 11/8/13