True or false: Federal law specifically bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
False. Federal law addresses discrimination based on sex, but not specifically on sexual orientation. The majority of states also do not have laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
True or false: The majority of Fortune 500 companies now have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
True. While it is still currently legal to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in most states, 9 out of 10 Fortune 500 companies protect gay and lesbian workers from bias.
True or false: Discrimination against gay people isn’t really an issue anymore.
False. A 2011 Williams Institute study found that nearly 40% of all LGB people open about their sexual orientation in the workplace will experience some form of employment discrimination in their lifetime. For transgender people that number is much higher: 78% according to a 2011 survey. LGBT discrimination is not just confined to the workplace: a 2014 report from the Equal Rights Center found that nearly half (48%) of gay couples inquiring about housing in a senior housing facility faced some form of adverse treatment when compared to straight couples. Economic data underscores the impact of this discrimination, with LGBT people experiencing poverty and food insecurity at higher rates than non-LGBT people.
True or false: When anti-discrimination laws are passed, LGBT people file lawsuits at extreme rates.
False. Studies by the Williams Institute and the LGBQT Policy Journal at Harvard's Kennedy School have found that discrimination complaints filed by LGBT people are similar to the rates of discrimination complaints filed by people of color and women. Discrimination lawsuits are filed for a reason. In a perfect world, discrimination would never happen. But the truth is, it does. Discrimination against LGBT people is real, and when it happens, there must be a legal remedy.
True or false: Anti-discrimination laws would give special rights to gay people.
False. Almost all proposed nondiscrimination measures seek only to update existing law by adding the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to policies that already prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability and marital status. In other words, these measures would extend equal protections to LGBT people and include them in current laws.
True or false: LGBT people are disproportionately victimized by hate violence.
True. FBI statistics indicate that although LGBT people make up 3% of the population, they account for more than one in five victims of hate violence, the most profound expression of bias.
The best way for LGBT people to secure protections from discrimination is through:
All of the above. There are many avenues for LGBT people to secure different kinds of nondiscrimination protections, but there is no “best” way. As in the struggle for the freedom to marry, most experts agree the best way to move forward is to employ a wide variety of tactics at multiple levels, with the end goal of ensuring that all Americans can be protected from discrimination, no matter where they live.
Six of 10 LGBT people still face bias every day, a number that rises dramatically for transgender Americans, people of color, youth and older adults. To learn more please visit Freedom for all Americans, and share this quiz to help spread the word.