LGBTQ – Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer Community
Even though our nation’s views about the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community have definitely changed over the years, there are still huge issues with discrimination and harassment against this community. In human history, gay men and lesbians have been viciously persecuted. Discrimination against LGBTQ continues to affect not only the individuals but our entire society, and more broadly the world.
How it works
During earlier times, and still today, homosexual rights were not validated because they go against the beliefs and values of a dominant society. Furthermore, LGBTQ people continue experiencing different types of discrimination. This community has even been denied the right to use the bathroom which is associated with their gender identity. The LGBTQ community today is being discriminated against in schools, healthcare, employment and by our government since they experience discrimination by our armed services branches.
The HB2 (bathroom bill) was legislated after the Obama administration supported LGBTQ rights in May 2016. The administration stated that the bathroom bill went past the bathroom dispute to hint on seclusion rights. This bill limits the rights of an individual. The Obama administration allotted direction to public schools to permit transgender students to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Transgender students in turn were delighted with the understanding that they can learn in a non-discriminatory environment (CNN, 2017).
The bathroom bill is another way in which schools violate and disregard transgender student’s civil rights. Rather than focusing on their education, many transgender students struggle with the inability to come to school and be who they are without being punished for wearing certain attire or using facilities that don’t correspond with their biological gender identity. (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2017). Although, there are certain laws to protect discrimination against homosexuals, there is no law that protects LGBTQ from using the specific gender restroom that they see appropriate to their identity.
Furthermore, the Federal government has not made any laws to protect towards discrimination against LGBTQ. Consequently, North Carolina is the first and only state to pass the law (HB2) restricting the use of bathrooms by transgender students. The HB2 (bathroom bill) requires that people that are transgender use the restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their self-identified gender (NBC News, 2016).
According to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender youth struggle with being recognized by society, with less than ? being properly identified by the correct pronoun usage and ? being identified by their preferred name ( Student Non-Discrimination Act). Half of all transgender students are never able to use the correct restroom or locker room at school, and shockingly, more than a third of these students don’t use any restrooms at all throughout the school day. This causes serious health risks to students and compromises their educational opportunities.
Schools, while extremely important for providing academic education and socialization for youth of the U.S., often offer significant barriers for LGBTQ youth. As stated on Human Rights Watch, “A lack of policies and practices that affirm and support these youth-and a failure to implement protections that do exist-means that LGBTQ students nationwide continue to face bullying, exclusion, and discrimination in school, putting them at physical and psychological risk and limiting their education”(Like Walking Through a Hailstorm).
For this population discrimination not only happens in school but it also happens in healthcare. Many research strongly indicate that the LGBTQ population across the United States encounter significant barriers to healthcare. Exemptions that deny or deter people from seeking healthcare services jeopardize the community’s right to health. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.
The ICESCR obligates governments to ensure the right to health is enjoyed without discrimination based on race, sex, religion or other status, which the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights interpreted to include sexual identity and gender identity. The United States has signed but interestingly not ratified the ICESCR. When states enact laws allowing healthcare providers to deny service based on their personal objection to an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, they undermine the right to health. Individuals may be denied service outright; have difficulties finding services of comparable quality, accessibility, or affordability; or avoid seeking services for fear of being turned away.
To promote the right to health, the Committee ICESCR has thus urged the states to “adopt measures, which should include legislation, to ensure that individuals and entities in the private sphere do not discriminate or prohibit grounds”. As a sovereign state that has signed but not ratified the ICESCR, the United States is legally obligated only to refrain from actions that undermine the object and purpose of the treaty.
This population has difficulty finding providers who are knowledgeable about their needs. They encounter discrimination from insurers and providers, therefor, they delay or forego care because of concerns about how they will be treated. All people who need medical care should be able to see their doctor without worrying about being mistreated, harassed, or denied service outright. In the absence of federal legislation prohibiting healthcare discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ people are often left with little resource when discrimination occurs. Additionally, because of stigma, these individuals may delay seeking necessary medical attention ( Stein & Bonuck, 2001).
Unfortunately, besides health care this population also experiences discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The majority of studies examining workplace discrimination suggest that it is still a relatively widespread phenomenon. Research focusing on the LGBTQ community found that 20% to 50% of this population felt discriminated against during their job search and/ or at work. LGBTQ workers face discrimination that makes it harder for them to find and keep good jobs, to make a living, and to provide for themselves and their families.
This discrimination includes: Bias and discrimination in recruitment and hiring: they can put their job prospects at risk if they disclose that they are LGBTQ while looking for work. In addition, on the job inequality and unfair firing occur for this population. They as well may be in an environment where the workplace is bluntly hostile. This population most often work for places that condones anti-gay jokes and slurs where employers look the other way and allow a discriminatory climate to continue and flourish.
In addition to job and workplace discrimination , LGBTQ employees face wage inequality that makes it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families. Polls show that this population more likely report income of less than 24,000 per year. A 2011 survey found that 58% of LGBTQ workers and 78% of transgender workers had heard derogatory remarks or jokes at work. A different survey found 26% of transgender workers were unfairly fired because they were transgender and 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion. (/tags/national-center-transgender-equality).
The gay, lesbian and transgender population suffers unfairly at work and also when trying to serve and defend their country. Society also oppresses and discriminates them from serving in the military. Although this population for many years have put their lives on the line to defend our country, discrimination against them joining the military still exists. Although the U.S. military did not officially exclude homosexuals from its ranks before the mid-20th century, “homosexual acts” were grounds for discharge as far back as the Revolutionary War.
After World War 1, the military made the act of sodomy a crime subject to punishment by court-martial. In 1942, military regulations began listing homosexuality as an excludable characteristic for the first time. Despite this policy, hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians served in the military throughout the next several decades, keeping silent about their sexual identity for fear of being discharged, and losing their veterans’ benefits or worse. LGBTQ people live in fear of the discrimination actions society have taken against them.
Discrimination against this population is so ingrained in the U.S. society as evidenced by the Military’s refusal to accept gay, transgender, and queer individuals. The U.S. military denied this population to serve although they are able and willing to put their lives on the line to defend their country. Though discrimination existed long before 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) law, which allowed homosexual or queer to serve while keeping their sexual orientation undercover without being discriminated in the armed forces.
While DADT was a compromise of acceptance of gays in the military, many argued that it was not a fix to discrimination. Even today, in 2019, discrimination still persists as new policies have been put into place that no longer allow transgender people to serve in our armed forces. Furthermore, in 2016 the senate confirms Eric Fanning as secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch. This was a huge accomplishment for the LGBTQ community.
It is hard enough that LGBTQ people face discrimination by society but also by religious groups. Throughout the years religious people have thought of members of the LGBTQ community as sinners simply because of the fact that they do not follow what their religious standards call for, which led to discrimination towards the LGBTQ community. Today, homosexuals are a target for religious group. Members of religious groups frequently quote scripture to justify anti-gay bias and even violence. There are even those who claim that AIDS is God’s punishment on homosexuals.
However, the LGBTQ community has made significant legal and political progress over the past decade, including the freedom to marry. Although, religious fundamentalist promote discrimination and denied people their human right to love whomever they choose. For many people, questions arise as to why there are religious beliefs against the LGBTQ population. Who is to decide whether someone’s opposition to LGBTQ rights is religiously motivated? How do we separate religious influence from other moral or ethical judgements?
How can someone’s religious beliefs allow them to refuse service to LGBTQ people if they have no problems serving an adulterer, thief or others whose lifestyles conflict with religious teachings? Religious beliefs opposed to same sex marriage and refuse marriage related services for the LGBTQ population. Other members of society and business owner also refuse to render services to this population.
Shortly after the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling by the Supreme Court, Americans reported being conflicted over whether small businesses providing wedding services should be able to refuse gay and lesbian customers. Close to half (46%) of Americans believe that the owners of wedding-based businesses, such as caterers, florists, and bakers, should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs, while about as many as (48%) say these types of businesses should be required to serve same sex couples.
Opinions are also more noticeable among Republicans than Democrats. Today, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Republicans say wedding vendors should be permitted to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples if doing so would violate their religious beliefs, while 67% embraced this view in 2017.(wedding cakes, same-sex marriage, and the future of LGBT rights in America/ Alex Vandermass -Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle, 8/2018).
Among major religious groups, white evangelist Protestants express the strongest support for allowing wedding businesses to refuse services. Seven in ten (70%) white evangelical protestants say wedding businesses, such as caterers, florists, and bakers, should be allowed to refuse to provide goods or services to gay and lesbian couples.(wedding cakes, same-sex marriage, and the future of LGBTQ rights in America/ Alex Vandermass-Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle, 8/2018).
Consequently, according to Beitsch(2015), “Fourteen states-Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas-prohibited same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court decision”. However, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made the long awaited decision to legalize same sex-marriage throughout the entire United States.
Although this was a large victory for this community in the United States, there are still many issues that the LGBTQ population faces, including adoption rights. Since the ruling, the legality of child adoption by this population has expanded, however not enough has been done. Unfortunately, some states are hesitant to change their laws and do not have certain policies that ensure full equality for the gay population.
For example, in Alabama a same sex couple must wait a year after marriage to be able to adopt a child, which is a longer wait than a straight couple has. Also, both Mississippi and Texas have strict laws against LGBTQ joint adoption that have still not yet been overturned (Beitsch, 2015). The likeliness of approving an LGBTQ adoption is slimmer than that of a straight couple because there are still policies and practices that can hinder adoption for this population.
In the past, adoption was common among white, middle class Americans that were infertile and searching for a child of the same race (Lavely, 2007). Today, the face of adoption has changed quite a bit. However, the process of adopting children for LGBTQ couples can be very different in comparison to heterosexual couples. Adoption for this population can take different forms, such as: a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, an adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other’s biological child ( a second parent adoption), or an adoption by a single person who is LGBTQ (Olson,2009).
The average adoption process for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples usually takes 1-2 years, however, there are issues that can deter the process for these individuals. There are discriminatory factors that can discourage an adoption agency or other person from allowing LGBTQ parents from adopting such as personal bias or institutional discrimination. Some agencies have a religious affiliation tied to them and will not permit a same-sex adoption( Ross et al.,2008).
Although, there is still a lot of discrimination towards LGBTQ, there are protections nationwide for the LGBTQ community. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination are punished by federal law. Furthermore, in the 1960s, the civil rights enforced equality and freedom from discrimination. This movement later on expedited equal opportunity in employment, education, housing; and equal access to public facilities.
The Civil Rights Act brought light to discrimination against race, color, sex, religion, disability and ethnicity. In 1964, the United States adopted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to combat rampant employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. Over the last decade, a growing numbers of organizations have started to implement LGBTQ-supportive policies on a voluntary basis. The business case argument states that a diverse workplace bring about benefits for firms: positive business outcomes could be both direct, for example, by increasing an organization’s overall profit, and indirect, for example, by improving employees’ job satisfaction or increasing their job commitment.
According to this diversity discourse, the promotion of equality goes hand in hand with business goals. A growing body of literature has investigated whether inclusive workplace policies translate into benefits for companies. The results remain controversial, as they have shown that policies may have large, small, or nonexistent effects on business outcomes and bolstering of the promotion of equality (Badgett et al. 2013; McFadden 2015). Title VII established a comprehensive and absolute prohibition of discriminatory employment practices based on race or color. Title VII also established equal opportunity employment guarantees for other traditionally oppressed groups, including women, persons of differing national origins, and members of non-majority religions.
In an early effort to address a pattern of discriminatory employment practices against gay and transgendered individuals, Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds introduced the first Employment Non-Discrimination legislation to the House of Representatives in 1994. Since then, Congress has considered several versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). One Stakeholder group that influences policy against LGBTQ discrimination is Freedom for All Americans. “Freedom for All Americans” is a bipartisan national campaign that ensures equality and protection for the LGBTQ community in the United States of America.
The mission of Freedom for all American campaigns is to provide fair and equal treatment. The main goal of this campaign is to obtain federal Statutory, protection, employment, housing, credit and education for the entire LGBTQ community in America (Freedom for All Americans, 2016). The campaign includes two different abstractions: Freedom for All Americans and Freedom for All Americans Education Fund. They engage in legislative lobbying designed to end discrimination in the law at both the state and federal level.
After years of the LGBTQ community standing up for their rights to sexuality the first gay march took place. The first gay march was in 1965 in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. During this time, homosexuality was prohibited and unmentioned. People did not speak or admit openly of their sexual orientation because they knew it was a controversial untraditional issue. However, in 1979, the gay community held the first gay rights march in Washington.
Groups came from almost all 50 states. Over 10 thousand people marched and joined force that day (INFOTRUE, 2014). Given the disparate treatment of LGBTQ people globally, an important question that arises is: how much and what kinds of discrimination do LGBTQ people face in achieving equal rights with the rest of their sovereign state populations?
For decades the LGBTQ population have continued to fight for equality. Today, Americans are far less likely to perceive discrimination against gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people today than just five years ago. After years of struggling for equality in society and in the military, LGBTQ can now openly serve without hiding their sexual identity due to Equal Opportunity policies. In 2008, President Barack Obama signed into law the repeal of the discriminatory law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” which prevented this population to serve openly.
Today, a majority (55%) of Americans believe gay and lesbian people experience a lot of discrimination in the United States, a 13-point drop from 2013, when nearly seven in ten (68%) Americans said the same. Perceptions of discrimination against transgender people are significantly lower today. Roughly six in ten (59%) Americans say transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today, compared to more than seven in ten (71%) who expressed this opinion in 2013.
Although the percentages are declining from the 2013 survey, it will require a concerted effort on the LGBTQ community and its supporters to truly achieve equality and the right to a level playing field in society. It is important to note that in recent history, victories and defeats came in large part based on the rulings of the Supreme Court.
This judiciary branch of our government has the power to quickly enact social change; however, this Court is now becoming more and more conservative, which on the surface will lead to greater struggles in the short run. This being said, there is a fourth branch of our society, which can flourish in spite of the composition of the Supreme Court and lower courts, Congress and the Executive branch; this “branch” is commonly referred to as the “Court of Public Opinion.”
Society itself possesses enormous power to put pressure on our duly elected officials as well as organizations that seek to oppress the LGBTQ community. Two excellent examples of this are the Boy Scouts of America, who won the right to associate with members of their choosing, but due to social pressures allowed gay boys to become Troop members.
Secondly, the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, with its steadfast religious origins, went through great lengths to keep gay pride marchers from participating in its annual event. Once again, pressure on the Parade’s sponsors to withdraw their support or face a growing faction of society who will boycott their products ultimately resulted in the Parade choosing to accept LGBTQ marchers or face financial extinction.
When the long view is considered, life as a member of the LGBTQ community has experienced enormous success. With a steady collective hand, LGBTQ individuals will finally achieve their rights to pursue happiness as they wish, just as our Founding Fathers once envisioned for all.