Discrimination Still A Problem In Government

The UCLA Williams Institute released the results of a new study today that shows harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ+ employees of state and local government is still a significant problem and one greater than reported by employees working in private industry. Despite the June 2020 decision by the United States Supreme Court (Bostock v. Clayton County) prohibiting discrimination by employers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, It is still a notable problem in the public sector.

“LGBT people who work for state or local government employers continue to face discrimination and harassment at work. Patterns of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity are similar in the public and private sectors. Over one-quarter (28.2%) of LGBT employees reported that they experienced discrimination or harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in a state or local government job (or both) at some point in their lives. Experiences of discrimination and harassment were more common in local government employment. A large proportion—over 80%—of LGBT employees reported that the discrimination and harassment they experienced in a state or local government job was motivated by employer’s or co-workers’ religious beliefs. Employees who experienced religiously motivated discrimination and harassment reported that these incidents involved being told that they were “going to hell” and that it was “a sin” to be LGBT.

Fear of discrimination and harassment can lead employees to engage in behaviors to hide who they are at work. Over 60% of LGBT employees (62.5%) who are currently employed by state or local governments reported that they are not open about being LGBT to their supervisor and 29.7% report that they are not out to any of their co-workers. Only about one-fifth (21.5%) of LGBT state and local government employees are out to all of their co-workers. Many LGBT state and local government employees said that they have changed how they present themselves at work or have avoided talking about their lives and their families to avoid discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Several employees reported engaging in these behaviors in response to workplace experiences or because they were directly told to do so.

Discrimination and harassment negatively impact both employees and employers. One-third of LGBT employees overall (i.e., both public and private sector) said they had left a job because of how they were personally treated based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

More robust protections, including monitoring and enforcement, are needed to ensure that LGBT people are fully protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.” – UCLA Williams Institute, November 2021. Download the complete report.

No law enforcement agency can afford the loss of talent and experience to discrimination and no agency can literally afford the liability when unlawful discrimination or harassment occurs.  Training is one tool to prevent all of this from happening.  Explore our online training programs.