Connect with us

News

U.S. agency to Congress: Pass law against LGBT workplace discrimination

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights details history of anti-LGBT discrimination

Published

on

ENDA, Employment Non-Discimination Act, GetEQUAL, U.S. Capitol, gay news, Washington Blade
GetEQUAL, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT workers

Employment Non-Discrimination protest in May, 2010. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

An independent, bipartisan U.S. agency is set to deliver to President Trump on Wednesday a report calling on Congress to “immediately enact a federal law” against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, although lawmakers are unlikely to act any time soon given the current makeup of Congress and the long history of stalling on the issue.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights details in the 154-page report the history of discrimination against LGBT people and the lack of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in federal law, citing a 2015 hearing the agency held on the issue.

“LGBT individuals often face lower wages, increased difficulty in finding jobs, promotion denials, and/or job terminations due to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the report says. “Studies have found that anywhere from 21 to 47 percent of LGBT adults faced employment discrimination because they were gay or transgender.”

Twenty states and D.C., the report notes, have laws barring anti-LGBT employment discrimination and growing number of courts are interpreting the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to apply to LGBT people. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the report notes, this year became the first federal appeals court to determine sexual-discrimination in the workplace amounts to sex discrimination under current federal law.

But the report concludes these measures are insufficient in comparison to an explicit federal non-discrimination law barring anti-LGBT discrimination in the workforce.

“Some federal courts have concluded that the existing federal statutory protection against discrimination based on sex, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, includes within its protection discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” the report says. “Other federal courts have disagreed. These inconsistent interpretations result in different protections available to individuals based on their jurisdiction, and it is not clear when the Supreme Court will resolve the dispute.”

Efforts to enact LGBT non-discrimination protections in the federal law have stalled for decades. In years past, LGBT advocates have sought to pursue federal non-discrimination protections through passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. But since 2014, the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure more comprehensive protections for LGBT people, has been the chosen vehicle.

The report has five recommendations: Congress should “immediately enact a federal law” barring anti-LGBT discrimination in the workforce; U.S. agencies should issue guidance and policies outlining protections for LGBT workers, specifically transgender people; Congress should appropriate funds necessary to enforce civil rights laws; the religious exemption in any LGBT non-discrimination law should be the same as exemptions in existing civil rights law; and federal agencies, such as the U.S. census, should collect data on anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights is comprised of eight individuals who serve six-year terms: Four appointed are by the President, and four by Congress. The current chair is Catherine Lhamon, who was appointed by Obama and served during his administration as assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department. No Trump appointees serve on the commission.

The conclusions in the report aren’t unanimous. One of the congressionally appointed commissioners, Gail Heriot, a law professor at University of San Diego, disagrees with its conclusions. Another commissioners also appointed by Congress, Peter Kirsanow, a partner at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Arnoff, argues LGBT issues aren’t within the commission’s jurisdiction.

The letter of transmittal indicates the report will be sent to Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The Washington Blade sent a request to comment on report to the White House as well as Ryan and McConnell’s office.

In 2000, Trump said in an interview with The Advocate he supports amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation. But Trump has never addressed whether he still supports that idea during his presidential campaign or his presidency, nor whether he’d also support amending the law to include transgender people.

Meanwhile, Trump’s administration has been hostile to LGBT workplace rights. The U.S. Justice Department has argued Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t apply to gay workers and rescinded an Obama-era memo asserting the law prohibits anti-trans discrimination.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Local

Sheila Alexander-Reid to step down as director of D.C. LGBTQ Affairs Office

Veteran community activist to take new job workplace bias consultant

Published

on

Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs, Sheila Alexander-Reid, gay news, Washington Blade

Longtime LGBTQ community advocate Sheila Alexander-Reid, who has served since 2015 as director of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Affairs, is stepping down from her city job in mid-July.

Alexander-Reid told the Washington Blade she will take a few weeks of accumulated leave beginning June 15 to recuperate from follow-up knee surgery before officially leaving her current job to take on a new role as a private sector consultant in the area of workplace bias and diversity training.

She said will announce the name of the private sector company she will be joining as a senior vice president when she begins her new job in mid-July.

Among her duties at the Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office has been to lead the office’s staff in providing LGBTQ related diversity or competency training for D.C. government employees at all city agencies.

According to the office’s website, other activities it carries out include connecting LGBTQ residents with city services they may need, advocating on behalf of programs and policies that benefit the lives of LGBTQ residents, providing grants to community-based organizations that serve the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ homeless youth; and host events that “enrich, promote, and bring together” the LGBTQ community in D.C.

“That work is always going to be part of who I am,” Alexander-Reid said. “But now I will be expanding on that work to look at racial equity and gender bias as well as LGBTQ bias,” she said. “I feel like I will be doing the same work but in a different format.”

Prior to starting her job at the mayor’s office, Alexander Reid served as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Washington Blade, Director of Strategic Engagement at the Washington City Paper, and Founder and Executive Director of the D.C. based Women in the Life Association. She has also served as host of Inside Out, a local FM LGBTQ radio show.

Alexander-Reid noted that when she began work at the LGBTQ Affairs Office in late January 2015, less than a month after Bowser took office as mayor, the office consisted of two full-time employees, including her, with a budget of $209,000. In the current fiscal year 2021, the office now has four full-time employees and two additional detailed employees, from the Department of Health and Department of Human Services. The mayor is proposing a budget of $561,000 for the office for fiscal year 2022.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say what a pleasure it has been to work for Mayor Bowser,” said Alexander-Reid. “I was excited to work for her and I don’t regret it for one second. “It’s been an amazing journey and I appreciate her having faith in me.”

She said she expects an interim director to be named to run the office in mid-July while a search is conducted for a permanent director.

Continue Reading

Local

Attack on trans woman in D.C. laundromat captured in video

Police seek help from community in identifying suspects.

Published

on

(Screen capture via the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's YouTube channel)

D.C. police on Thursday night released a dramatic video taken from a surveillance camera showing two women and a man repeatedly punching and shoving a transgender woman at a laundromat on Benning Road in Northeast Washington in an incident in which the victim was stabbed in the head.

Police, who have listed the Sunday, June 6, incident as a suspected anti-LGBTQ hate crime, are appealing to the community for help in identifying the three suspects, who are shown in the video attacking the trans woman before escaping in a black SUV while carrying laundry bags.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District obtained the video from a surveillance camera at the Capital Laundry Mat at 1653 Benning Road, N.E., according to a police report and a police statement released Thursday night.

The video shows that the suspects were accompanied by two young children. It shows one of the adult female suspects appearing to be dancing by herself in front of a row of washing machines seconds before the three suspects lunged at the victim and began punching her.

“One of the suspects brandished a knife and stabbed the victim,” the police statement says. “The suspects fled the scene in a vehicle. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries,” the statement says.

“Anyone who can identify these individuals, or vehicle, or has knowledge of this incident should take no action but call police at 202-727-9099 or text your tip to the Department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411,” the statement adds. It says the department’s Crime Solvers program offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and indictment of a person or persons responsible for a crime committed in D.C.

Police spokesperson Alaina Gertz told the Washington Blade that because the investigation is ongoing, police could not immediately disclose whether they know if the victim knew one or more of the attackers before the incident took place or what, if anything, prompted the suspects to attack the victim other than due to her status as a transgender person.

The video released by D.C. police can be accessed here:  https://youtu.be/7v8lthvUPcg

Continue Reading

National

North Dakota lawmakers okay regulation banning Conversion Therapy

This rule change will stop the vast majority of mental health providers in North Dakota from subjecting LGBTQ youth to conversion therapy

Published

on

Capitol Building of North Dakota in Bismarck (Photo Credit: State of North Dakota)

BISMARCK, ND. – The North Dakota House Administrative Rules Committee voted 8-7 on Tuesday, June 8, to authorize the rule proposed by the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners, implementing new regulations prohibiting licensed social workers from subjecting LGBTQ youth to the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.

The North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners, which oversees licensing for social workers in the state, created the new rule which states that “it is an ethical violation for a social worker licensed by the board to engage in any practices or treatments that attempt to change or repair the sexual orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals.”

The West Hollywood based Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, had worked with Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Josh Boschee, the National Association of Social Workers ND Chapter, the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, and local advocates like Elizabeth Loos to advance these critical protections for LGBTQ youth.

 “This rule change will stop the vast majority of mental health providers in North Dakota from subjecting LGBTQ youth to the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. This practice is not therapy at all— it’s abusive and fraudulent,” said Troy Stevenson, Senior Advocacy Campaign Manager for The Trevor Project. “There is still more work to be done in North Dakota, but this bold action will help save young lives. The Trevor Project is committed to an every state strategy to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy and North Dakota has proven that progress is possible anywhere.”

“Thank you to the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners for restricting licensed social workers in North Dakota from being able to practice conversion therapy! LGBT North Dakotans, especially youth, are safer now as you hold licensees responsible to the NASW Code of Ethics,” said Minority Leader Boschee. 

The proposed ban on therapist-administered conversion therapy in North Dakota was met with opposition by several of the committee’s most socially conservative members, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, told the paper that he worries the new prohibition is limiting because it would prevent people seeking “some kind of treatment” from getting help. Bell said the rule is written so clients who are LGBT or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity are not inhibited from seeking care.

Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown, said he’s concerned the rule would interfere with religious counseling, adding “there are some cases where people want to change.”

“There are licensed counselors that are also Christians, and basically my concern in all of this is that we’re telling the Christian counselors ‘you can be a licensed counselor, but you can’t practice your Christianity,'” Satrom said.

Satrom and West Fargo Republican Rep. Kim Koppelman said approving the social workers’ ban on conversion therapy is outside of the committee’s scope and ought to be scrutinized by the full Legislature.

Boschee, the North Dakota Legislature’s only openly gay member, told the Grand Forks Herald that he was disappointed in some of his colleagues for standing behind the “harmful” practice of conversion therapy and trying to muddy the conversation over what is a simple self-imposed rule for social workers. The Fargo Democrat said he was ultimately pleased that seven lawmakers joined him in upholding the proposed ban.

Research: 

  • According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 13% of LGBTQ youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy, with 83% reporting it occurred when they were under age 18. LGBTQ youth who were subjected to conversion therapy reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not.
  • According to a peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project published in the American Journal of Public Health, LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year.
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular