America’s LGBTQ community has made great strides in the last 20 years or so. Today, same-sex marriage is legal, and in many parts of the country, people of minority sexual orientations and transgender individuals can live openly and proudly.
At the same time, anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ workers are lagging behind. It is not currently clear if the federal Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination or harassment on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. So far, 21 states have passed their own laws giving workers the right to sue based on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. But Ohio is not one of them.
An argument for expanding anti-discrimination protections in Ohio
Lawmakers in the General Assembly are trying to pass a bill called the Ohio Fairness Act that would change that. Rep. Brett Hillyer is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. In an opinion piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hillyer said that it is time to pass it. Discrimination against LGBTQ Americans is still a major problem, Hillyer said. In a recent survey, more than one in three said they had been discriminated against in the past year. For transgender individuals, more than 60 percent reported discrimination.
“LGBT Americans are our friends, neighbors, family and coworkers,” Hillyer wrote. “When it comes to employment, housing, business and government services, they should be treated like everybody else, with dignity and respect.”
The effects of workplace LGBTQ discrimination
Being discriminated against in any context can have a profoundly negative impact on the victim’s psychological well-being and sense of place in the community. On top of that, workplace discrimination often takes away from your ability to earn an income and advance your career according to your ambition and ability. Ohio law already lets you take legal action against discrimination based on factors like race, gender, age, ethnicity and national origin. Perhaps someday, workers who have experienced sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination will have that right too.