Archive for the ‘Discrimination’ Category
FOUR LITTLE LETTERS THAT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROVIDING FOR YOUR FAMILY AND POVERTY: E-N-D-A
There are only 17 states that have state-wide protection from being fired at your job because of sexual orientation or gender identity (plus another four that only protect sexual orientation). That means that the majority of states in our country offer no state-wide protection from being called into your manager’s office one day, after getting wonderful reviews for 20 years, and being fired simply because your new manager didn’t like gay people. And recent polls show that most Americans don’t support this type of discrimination, and in fact think it is already illegal to fire someone because they are gay. But it’s not.
And there’s been a bill languishing in Congress for years and years called ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And it’s really the most simple bill. It says that you can’t be discriminated at your job because of your orientation or gender identity, regardless of what state you happen to live in. It says that people should be judged on their abilities at work, not on what their orientation happens to be. It’s frankly what America is supposed to stand for – equal opportunity for all.
But although there is now bi-partisan support for this in the U.S. Senate, it looks like the House of Representatives won’t even allow its members to vote on it. And while we are not a political organization, the truth is that there are three words that are preventing a vote from even being allowed: The Republican Party.
It’s incredible to me that in 2013, our representatives in Congress won’t even be allowed to vote on the bill, because the Republican-controlled House of Representatives knows that if a vote were allowed to take place, the law would almost certainly pass. So let’s just not let anybody vote. Not exactly the American Way.
So please, call your representative and urge them to support ENDA, and to allow people to vote on it. Because it’s hard for us to protect ourselves and our families, when we never know if tomorrow will be the day we’ll be fired, just for being ourselves.
Brad Becker, Executive Director
It is not unusual for people to reach out to us with anxiety of having contracted an STD because they had unprotected sex with a stranger of the same sex. Unprotected sex is a dangerous activity. Callers are frequently aware of the risks and are often mortified at their own behavior, as well as being sick with fear of the potential consequences.
A common link for the people who make these calls is that they are attempting to hide their sexual orientation from others (and often themselves). This denial then leads to risky behavior, regret, and further denial.
One of our primary goals at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center is to help people identify their own sexual orientations. We believe that when a person is honest with herself, she is more likely to make informed and healthy decisions. That is one aspect of diminishing risky behavior. The second is support from one’s friends and family,* which of course an individual who is coming out does not have control over. However, this further suggests to all of us that acceptance of differing sexual orientations leads to happier and healthier individuals.
Did you recently have a risky same-sex encounter that you want to talk about? Give us a call, send us an email or start an online chat with a volunteer peer-counselor.
*From a study by Vincke, Bolton, Mak, and Blank at the University Hospital in Belgium, 1993:
Individuals who recognize and freely admit that they are either homosexual or bisexual may be rejected by their peers, families, and others. Adequate social support, however, has been shown to lead to a heightened sense of well-being and health. It has also been shown to encourage individuals to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. There are important correlations between social support and self-esteem, control/mastery, and stress management. The withdrawal of social support following the coming out of gay people can have serious detrimental effects on their social and emotional well-being.
In many places, job discrimination remains a big issue for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Many people are afraid to be out for fear that they will be fired and/or subjected to a hostile work environment. According to our callers, bullying for being different doesn’t necessarily end at high-school graduation. No one deserves to lose his/her job or have an uncomfortable workplace because of sexual orientation or gender identification. As incredible as it seems in 2011, the majority of states have NO state-wide law the prohibits discrimination in the work place because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Nor does the U.S. have a federal law the provides equal protection. In some places, individual cities have provided protection, but if you travel outside of that city, you might just have lost your ability to work.
That’s why it is so critical for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that will protect all members of our GLBT community.
For legal advice, the following organizations can be helpful:
- Lambda Legal
- The American Civil Liberties Union
- In the Washington D.C. area, GAYLAW
- In the San Francisco area, The Legal Aid Society
For more links, please also see the Out & Equal website.
Although they cannot dispense legal advice, our peer-counselor volunteers are happy to listen and discuss the feelings surrounding a discriminatory work environment. Please let us know if we can help.