A new Pew Research Center American Values survey shows a massive shift among Democrats, Independents and Republicans in their views about employment discrimination protections for gay and lesbian teachers. While just 25 years ago, 51 percent of Americans said school boards should be able to fire teachers purely based on their sexual orientation, that number has dropped to just 21 percent today.
As the New Civil Rights Movement noted today, even among Republicans, the shift has been just as seismic. In 1987, 59 percent of Republicans believed employment discrimination against teachers should be allowed; today that number has declined to 29 percent.
This drastic change indicates that American’s are increasingly understanding that discrimination against LGBT people is not just wrong, but also bad business. And with more education and understanding, that number will eventually drop to zero.
Unfortunately, on this subject, government has not yet caught up to the American people. There is no federal law protecting LGBT employees from discrimination. And while 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, in 29 states it remains legal to fire an employee just because he or she is — or even seems — gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Congress should enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ensure that no student is denied an excellent teacher to the small minority who still want to discriminate.