By A L Wright, Nov 27 2016 02:23AM
Recently I had a beta reader ask me “Why does it matter that your character is lesbian? Why should she be scared of coming out to her employer?” And I wish the answer to these questions was simply; it doesn’t matter - or - she shouldn’t be scared. But facts are that there are still a lot of LGBT people who are terrified of coming out in their workplaces. Those of us who have been lucky enough to have gay friends or family members would never think of treating someone poorly because of their sexual orientation. But there are many people who, for whatever reasons, are still uncomfortable around those who are attracted to the same sex, or identify as the opposite sex. But this isn’t about changing those peoples’ minds; this is about simple awareness that workplace discrimination against LGBT folk is still a vast issue.
“Between 15% to 43% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender workers have experienced being fired, denied promotions or harassed, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that studies LGBT issues.” – Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2013 - See more at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/headlines/research-on-lgbt-workplace-protections/#sthash.7ufyjZ2B.dpuf
This was a quote I pulled from the Williams Institute Website, and it's interesting because it shows a high disparity not only in people being treated equally, but in the percentages itself. It states between 15 - 43 % have experienced...what this tells me, and mind you I am forming my own opinions here, is that the range is so wide because it's difficult to pinpoint an issue that people are afraid or flat-out unwilling to talk about. And because it doesn’t get talked about, it never rises close enough to the surface for the majority to know that it still is an ongoing issue.
But this also means that LGBT all get “lumped” together when talking about things like employer discrimination. Each letter of LGBT stands for something different and depending on which of those you are, you may be treated better or worse.
• A 2013 PEW Survey found that 21% LGBT respondents had been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotions.
• When surveyed separately, transgender respondents report even higher rates of employment discrimination and harassment than LGB people. In a 2011 survey, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity.
That was also taken from Williams Institute, and their research shows that when “lumped” together, 21% of LGBT have experienced discrimination in the workplace. But Transgender folk seem to suffer the most, at a survey response rate of 78%.
Interestingly, in a 2015 article on the GLAAD website ( http://www.glaad.org/blog/value-lgbt-equality-workplace ), it states much higher percentages, with up to 40% of all LGBT people and 90% of transgender folks facing discrimination every day. Higher percentages, and this is a newer study!
Scroll down on that page on the GLAAD website, and you will see a color chart showing a survey where 100 different people in different countries were asked if they were fully “out” or if they held back telling others. The results really highlight one major thing; in every country, there are people who do not feel that they can come out as gay/lesbian/bi/transgender.
Could you imagine holding back a piece (HUGE PIECE) of yourself because you are scared not only as to how people will react, but how you will be treated from there on out? Depending on the circumstances (where you live, where you work, who you tell) the results of coming out could be quite devastating, and long lasting.
And even further down on GLAAD’s web page, is a chart that shows a survey of straight persons’ responses when asked if they would be uncomfortable knowing someone close to them was gay. The results of that survey, and even to me (and I am quite open-minded) are absolutely shocking.
What is my opinion on all of this? I think as a society we just need to let people be who they are. NORMALIZE being LGBT. Don’t criticize others for merely being who they are. They can’t help it! And there is no need to comment on it, or bring it up, or ID them in specific ways. “Yeah you know, the gay guy in accounting…” NO HIS NAME IS ROGER. Or Bill, or Frank, or William. Or Susie. Treating them like a person will normalize being gay until we all just finally settle for being human.