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Local and State Government Workers Need Protection Too

Anna Mumford,
LGBT Project
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August 17, 2009
Map of Non-Discrimination Laws

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If you’ve ever laid awake at night worrying that you might lose your job because you’re LGBT, rest assured your fear is real.

Only 21 states have employment non-discrimination laws that protect against sexual orientation discrimination, and only 12 states protect against gender identity discrimination. So in a majority of states, it’s completely legal for your boss to fire you because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. There’s nothing stopping a potential employer from refusing you a job because you’re LGBT, and because federal non-discrimination law doesn’t cover sexual orientation or gender identity, you have no legal recourse to confront anti-gay or anti-trans harassment on the job.

We’re really close to changing all this through federal legislation that would bar workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Congress is poised to pass — and the President Obama has promised to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Unfortunately, there’s a chance that state and local governments could be granted immunity from the new legislation. This means that if you’re a local or state government employee, you wouldn’t be protected.

We know that’s wrong because workplace discrimination is a problem that state and local government employees face too. Now we just need to persuade lawmakers in Washington that state and local government employees shouldn’t be left out.

We need to hear from people who wanted to work for a state or local government but have been fired, refused a job or faced harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We are looking for people who have held all kinds of jobs including faculty, teachers, and staff at colleges and schools, courts employees, law enforcement and correctional officers, prosecutors, bus drivers and sanitation workers. If you can prove that you were fired, refused a job or harassed for being LGBT, that’s great. But the proof doesn’t have to be in writing — it could be something your boss or other employees said to you.

If you or someone you know has faced this type of discrimination, please take a few minutes to fill out our secure online survey at

Let’s make sure that when we win protections for LGBT people in the workplace, we can include as many people as possible!

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