Survey: Majority of GLBTs Are Out at Work

by Peter Cassels

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday April 6, 2006

NEW YORK -- Nearly three-quarters of those responding to a survey of GLBTs report they are out at work. However, almost 40 percent also said they have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace and about 20 percent have experienced barriers to being promoted.

Those are among the results of a wide-ranging workplace fairness survey Lambda Legal announced April 5. The nation's largest GLBT legal advocacy organization conducted the study with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP.

"The results of this survey are critically important for employers across America," Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart told news media. "Even though more and more employers have enacted gay-friendly policies because they know it is good business, many employees are still without protection and experience anti-gay harassment and discrimination at work."

The survey, the largest in a decade and the first ever to ask how important gay-friendly policies are to where GLBTs decide to work, was administered online by invitation to Lambda Legal's nationwide membership between Sept. 22 and Nov. 4, 2005. The survey had 1,205 responses.

"This is a wakeup call for employers around the country," Cathcart said. "Without commitments to fairness and equality for all employees they risk losing talented employees and job candidates."

Among the survey's findings:

  • 54 percent of respondents said that non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies were "critical" to their decision about where they decide to work. An additional 38 percent reported that they appreciated gay-friendly policies and that they contributed to their happiness.

  • 74 percent reported being out at work.

  • 39 percent reported experiencing some form of anti-gay discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

  • 19 percent reported their sexual orientation was a barrier to promotion.

    There is no federal law that bars discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and only 18 states have legal protections for such employees. They are: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Peter Cassels is a recipient of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association's Excellence in Journalism award. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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