Most Americans Think LGBT People Already Have Employment Protections — They Don’t


Vandy Beth Glenn lost her job with the Georgia General Assembly for being transgender.

Think you know about LGBT employment protections? Take this quiz and see how much you know. A new poll from the Center for American Progress shows that 9 out of 10 voters think there is a federal law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination. They’re wrong. The poll found that 73 percent of voters do support such protections, including strong support from Catholics (74 percent), senior citizens (61 percent), and even people with unfavorable attitudes toward gay people (50 percent). Unfortunately, in most states the protections don’t exist, and levels of discrimination and harassment are high.

As many as 43 percent of LGB people and a staggering 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace mistreatment. Another column from CAP shares some of the personal stories of individuals who had these negative experiences and the consequences that come with, such as the fact that gay men earn 10-32 percent less than their heterosexual peers (PDF). Meanwhile, transgender individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed and four times as likely to be living in poverty (PDF).

If support for protections is so strong and people think they already exist, it’s peculiar that employment protection bills face such challenges in getting passed. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced for decades now without passing. Just last week, non-discrimination protections in Connecticut got a very transphobic pushback. Equality opponents raise alarm over these bills, focusing on nuanced details and promoting untrue fears. This new polling suggests that the number of people actually concerned about offering these protections is near-negligible. Legislators need to begin listening to the stories of those truthfully affected by discrimination instead of the absurd cries of a small pocket of extremists.