74% of straight people believe that job performance should be the only factor involved in judging job performance. 25% believe that sexual orientation or being trans should be a factor. It must be Friday.
According to the newly released Out & Equal Workplace Survey , 60% of those who already support not discriminating ‘strongly support’ it. But only 8% knew that firing someone because of their sexual orientation or trans status is currently legal under federal law.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been at various stages in Congress since 1994. If passed, ENDA would provide federal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public and private workforce, and would expand existing non-discrimination statues in the 29 states that allow discrimination based on orientation and the 35 states that allow discrimination based on gender identity. The legislation has failed numerous times already; even though it’s still re-introduced in Congress on a semi-regular basis, many have given up hope of it being passed, at least anytime soon.
Earlier this week, a new group called Freedom to Work formed with the goal of finally pushing it through. The group, which is headed by Tico Almeida, who served as ENDA’s head legal counsel on the US House Education and Labor Committee from 2007 to 2010, hopes that the act will be passed in the next two years. In an interview with the Washington Blade, Almeida said,
“We will exist for the sole purpose of increasing public education about LGBT workplace discrimination and for passing ENDA, and will disband after the statute goes into effect. So, it is our goal and would be an enormous success if we dissolve Freedom to Work by our two-year anniversary in the fall of 2013.”
Freedom to Work plans to use some of the tactics from repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell towards passing ENDA, particularly with highlighting personal stories alongside statistics to help raise awareness. According to Jarrod Chlapowski,
“In every movement, real momentum begins when the political climate is not so favorable and transformational figures choose to lay the basic educational groundwork from which a critical mass for change can be achieved. This was the model used by Servicemembers United in the movement to repeal DADT, and I am pleased and exhilarated that lessons and tactics learned in the DADT repeal fight are finally being utilized in the movement for full workplace equality.”
Such awareness campaigns will help to counter the 92% of the population who do not know that such discrimination is mostly legal.
Nevertheless, Selisse Berry, Executive Director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, says that:
“We are very encouraged by the rise in support for the rights of transgender employees and the fact that a significant majority of Americans believe that it is wrong to fire someone simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Protecting the rights of LGBT employees is not only the right thing to do but it is good for business; the results of this survey reinforce that Americans clearly understand that. The fact that people are unaware of the lack of federal employment protections highlights just how important educational events […] are. […]
These numbers show us that there is still work to do before people are comfortable being open about their sexual orientation at work. In particular, more needs to be done to ensure that bisexuals can disclose their identities safely. The discrimination that bisexual people face in the workplace is sometimes overlooked or dismissed, and this study demonstrates that it needs to be taken seriously.”
Other findings from the Out & Equal study include that 35% of bisexuals are out to their coworkers, compared to 62% of lesbians and 60% of gays. Additionally, only 21% of bisexuals, 44% of lesbians, and 55% of gays are out to their bosses or managers.