Federal law prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations (retail stores, libraries, courthouses, or restaurants), housing, and credit, on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, or disability, but there is no federal law today that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in these situations. Nonetheless, a growing number of Americans today believe that discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people in workplaces and in public accommodations is wrong, according to the just released 2016 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, conducted by The Harris Poll®.
When asked if they would favor or oppose a law that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination, 67% Americans agreed, with 36% saying they “strongly support” a federal law, while, by contrast, only 15% saying they “strongly oppose” such a law. By contrast, just last year, when asked a similar question, 62% of Americans supported federal nondiscrimination legislation. In 2016, 72% of younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, support such a federal law (with 38% expressing strong agreement).
Transgender Americans On The Job
The survey investigated attitudes about workplace policies related to transgender employees, with nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) of all Americans agreeing that employees should be judged for how well they perform their jobs, and not whether they are transgender. More than 2 in 5 of all Americans (44%) also agree that employers should make health insurance coverage available to transgender people who wish to seek gender affirmation surgery.
By significant majorities, most Americans agree that employers should show respect and dignity for transgender workers in a number of ways. Specifically:
- 75% of all Americans agree that regardless of the legal name and gender of an employee, employers should use an employee’s pronouns and desired name when communicating with them and when referring to them to third parties.
- 73% of all Americans agree that employers should learn everyone’s pronouns and preferred name and use them in the workplace.
- 63% of all Americans agree that employers should intervene when an employee regularly misuses a co-worker’s pronouns or preferred name.
- 59% of all Americans agree that regularly misusing a colleague’s pronouns or preferred name is a form of workplace harassment.
Finally, when thinking about policies at work and in public accommodations, respondents were asked whether transgender men and women should be permitted to use restrooms that best match their current gender identity – even if they have not medically transitioned. About two-thirds of all Americans agree that appropriate restroom access should be available for transgender adults at work and in public, without requiring medical transition.
“These trends, as we have seen year over year, give us more confidence that the workplace and marketplace are aligned with America’s supportive attitudes towards LGBT people,” said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications.
The annual study was conducted by The Harris Poll® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,223 U.S. adults, of whom 143 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (which includes an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Launched in 2002, the survey is an annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and the longest-running national opinion survey of its kind.