Workplace and professional equality is one of the most important legal barriers facing LGBT after winning marriage equality June 26, 2015.
“In 28 states, it is still perfectly legal to fire someone simply because they are gay (ACLU briefing, 2015).” In three additional states there are not equal laws protecting LGBT people in the workplace; one state is New York (ACLU briefing, 2015).
Consider that; about 60% of college students go back into the closet after graduating and entering the workforce (HRC, 2015). It made international news that the world is still adjusting to when Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple came out of the closet. The 2012 Presidential campaign was the first election where either party officially supported LGBT right with President Obama and the Democratic Party adding LGBT rights to the official Party platform. The Supreme Court of the United States’ decision that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional is less than one year old.
While some people think that not firing but continuing to harass LGBT people at work is acceptable. The ACLU is representing a former 16-year-old Taco John’s employee who was forced to wear a nametag labeling him “Gaytard” by his shift by his manager (ACLU, 2015).
Often, LGBT back off, walk away from equal opportunities, or refuse to pursue them. Many miss college to move to the city, have to relocate for opportunities or refuge from discrimination.
For many people in the LGBT community the fear of coming out can lead to uncertainty and fear of reaching too high in the professional world. Many people fear high profile work at risk of being outed.
With more people coming out early, it can lead to distractions and being misled. LGBT need to pursue the same education and work experience as another group of people. It is necessary to be truly competitive and seek out the necessary skills. Legal work can change laws, but until LGBT are employed equally in professional and government positions across the board equality is not a reality.
The LGBT voice needs to be represented in every public office and branches of business to insure equal opportunities and success for all in future generations.
Many people find LGBT acceptance in customer service and retail jobs reach the “glass ceiling” or “lavender wall” when they try to advance. It is still difficult to find LGBT people is prestigious professional positions; jobs that do not include art or performance. There is no representation in investment banking or financial institutions like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch. Many people face or fear discrimination working in some of the cities people associate with LGBT like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Even working in organizations that advocate or fundraise for LGBT rights it is easy to be the only representation of your sexual or gender identity. Allies or people simply looking for a job often take jobs. The LGBT professional is one of the most overlooked people in the movement. This is in spite of the fact that the position is the ultimate goal of the movement, the person has the most experience to share, and can be a source of hope for the community. Ultimately, this professional shines a light and breaks down barriers for future generations.