An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, according to recent findings from the Out & Equal Workplace Survey.
Conducted by The Harris Poll, the survey found that 67 percent of Americans support equal protections for LGBT individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations, such as restaurants, city parks, and public restrooms. In addition, 36 percent claimed that they “strongly support” equal opportunity on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, while just 15 percent stated that they “strongly oppose” nondiscrimination.
Employment protections are most widely supported by young millennials. Seventy-two percent said it should be illegal to fire someone because of their LGBT identity.
“We’ve known for sometime that the majority of Americans support treating everyone equally under the law, including those in the LGBT community,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, in a press release. “This study is further proof that lawmakers and business leaders should be fighting to ensure LGBT Americans are treated fairly.”
One group that fared particularly well in the Harris Poll survey is transgender people, whom Americans believe should be protected not only from discrimination but harassment and misgendering in the workplace.
Seventy-five percent of respondents stated that supervisors should use a trans or gender non-confirming employee’s preferred name and pronouns on the job. A similar percentage (73 percent) felt that employers should make an effort to learn the pronoun preferences of their subordinates, while 63 percent argued that supervisors should reprimand an employee who frequently misgenders a co-worker or calls them by the wrong name. Fifty-nine percent agreed that such behavior constitutes harassment.
These statistics have drastically improved in recent years. In 2013, just half of Americans supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers, according to a survey from YouGov and the Huffington Post.
Despite increasing acceptance, too many Americans still incorrectly believe that LGBT people are already protected from discrimination in the workplace. Currently, it’s legal to fire someone for their gender identity or sexual orientation in 28 states, but in the YouGov/HuffPost survey, just 13 percent of Americans were aware of that.
Advocates and legislators, however, have been pushing in recent years to make LGBT workplace discrimination a thing of the past.
In 2015, Rhode Island state representative David Cicilline and Oregon senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Equality Act to Congress, a bill that would update the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex in public accommodation — to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, has previously voiced her support of the bill.
“Although you can be married Saturday, post your pictures on Facebook on Sunday, you could then be fired Monday,” Cicilline told USA Today.
The issue remains as important as ever, even as LGBT people make increasing national strides toward equality. Earlier this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that instances of workplace harassment against LGBT employees were on the uptick. The number of reported incidents shot up 28 percent in 2015.