Press

ENDA will provide much-needed employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers

Date: 
November 05, 2009

MEDIA CONTACT:
Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592
isorensen@theTaskForce.org

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force shares data on the prevalence of discrimination against LGBT workers

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund today submitted testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that underscores the critical need for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. The committee is holding a hearing on the legislation today.

"We are on the heels of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act being signed into law. Without understating the importance of this monumental victory, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community needs ENDA, and we need it now," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The path that too often ends in victimization begins with bias and discrimination in the workplace. ENDA must be a top priority as we press forward in the movement for equality.

"Our friends, families, neighbors — even strangers — have long believed that workplace discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. No one should be prevented from earning a livelihood and providing for their families simply because of who they are," adds Carey. "ENDA reflects the core U.S. values of fairness and equality. People recognize that our nation as a whole benefits when everyone is allowed to contribute their talents and skills, free from discrimination, which is all ENDA seeks to do."

Task Force testimony includes preliminary data from a forthcoming and groundbreaking survey on discrimination against transgender people in the United States conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Data from this large-scale, first-of-its-kind survey show that discrimination in employment against transgender people is a nearly universal experience: 97 percent of the respondents reported being mistreated or harassed at work, and nearly half (47 percent) said they had lost their jobs, were denied a promotion, or denied a job as a direct result of being transgender.

Survey respondents experienced a series of damaging outcomes, many of which stem from the challenges they face in employment. Almost one-fifth (19 percent) of respondents reported becoming homeless because of being transgender. Transgender people also reported limited access to employer-provided health insurance: Only 40 percent of respondents reported access to employer-provided health insurance coverage as compared to 62 percent of the population at large.

"These figures show how devastating bias and discrimination are to the transgender community," says Carey. "Federal employment protection is the key to providing stability and a fair playing field for transgender people. Our data show that many of the severe problems transgender people face, including housing insecurity and lack of health insurance, are rooted in job loss or in workplace harassment and bias that force productive transgender employees off of the payrolls and onto the streets."

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of workplace discrimination against LGBT people found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

"The bottom line: The state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — transgender Americans in particular — is absolutely shameful," says Carey. "We need ENDA now."

The Task Force was the first national organization to advocate for federal nondiscrimination protections when it worked with then-U.S. Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch to introduce a sweeping bill in 1974. The Task Force has also played a leading role in ensuring ENDA is explicitly inclusive of transgender people and others facing discrimination based on gender identity.

Reporter resources:

Download the Task Force testimony.
Download the ENDA-related fact sheet on transgender discrimination.
Learn more about the Task Force's long history on this issue.

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

–30–

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.