Essay on Discrimination Against the LGBTQ
Number of words: 3117
Studies in diversity and inclusion indicate that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community across the United States experience continuous discrimination that adversely affects their well-being (Tilcsik, 2011). Gay, lesbians, and bisexuals are inappropriately discriminated against in terms of employment and representation in public sectors. One in every four LGBT people experiences discrimination as a matter of routine (Dentato, 2014). Despite the prevalent cases of discrimination, little to no progress has been attained in instituting nondiscriminatory statues that protect the LGBT people against discrimination (Employment Non-Discrimination Act, 2013). Neither the federal nor state governments have explicit laws that protect people against sex-based discrimination. Regardless of the lack of detailed nondiscriminatory laws, society has been welcoming towards the ideas of sexual equality. A study by Mallory, Hasenbush, and Sears (2015) found that an overwhelming number of LBGT people viewed society as more accepting. On the part of the general public Mallory, Hasenbush, and Sears (2015) found that opposition was widespread, and religion was indicated as one of the main factors why this is so. Currently, the United States legislation continues to shape the LGBT community as it moves forward into an attack against LGBT people’s rights.
Discrimination Experienced by LGBT
According to Pizer et al. (2011), discrimination is the act of making an unjust distinction between human beings based on class, sex, race, and so on. Discrimination may occur in different settings, including education, employment, health care, among other settings. Employment discrimination and other forms of discrimination, including health care, are too common in the LGBT community. Discrimination against this group occurs in other sectors. Studies indicate that members of the LGBT community experience increased rates of poverty, higher unemployment, increased food insecurity, and most report lower levels of income (Pizer et al., 2011). Gays and lesbians are more likely to experience food insecurity than heterosexual people. This group also lack adequate access to food due to a lack of resources. Research by Pizer et al. (2011) found that LGBT people are 1.5 times more likely to have experienced food insecurity in their lives than heterosexuals.
In addition to experiencing a food shortage, this group also experiences increased discrimination in government-induced healthcare programs such as Medicaid. It is vital to note that the LGBT community faces a wide range of health disparities, such as increased risks of substance abuse and mental illnesses. Despite this instance, many remain uninsured. Studies indicate that the rates of uninsured low-income LGBT people are prevalently high, especially in states with expanded Medicaid (Pizer et al., 2011). In like manner, research shows that there are not enough laws that protect members of this group against instances of discrimination. The shortage of laws that explicitly protect LGBT against discrimination within health care, employment, and other critical areas is also a problem.
The absence of law increases the risks that threaten the members of this group. Many risks being evicted from their houses; they risk being denied credit, and more importantly, they risk being fired from their jobs. Studies conducted by Nourafshan (2016) in major United States industries found that 43 percent of lesbians and gay experience harassment and judgment in their workplaces. Workplace discrimination pushes a significant number of people in this community into low wage jobs that do not allow workplace benefits, including insurance and unemployment benefits (Jansson, 2018). For instance, a recent state-level survey found that 14 percent of all lesbians, gays, and bisexual adults are unemployed compared to ten percent of non-LGBT adults (Jansson, 2018). Unemployment rates for transgender individuals are double the general population rate, increasing to four times the national unemployment rate for transgender African Americans.
When it comes to housing, LGBT people continue to experience discrimination in the allocation of houses; most experience increased homelessness. A study that meant to understand how minority groups are allocated housing found that members of LGBT and their families relied more on public housing assistance at 2.5 times the rate of heterosexuals (Pizer et al., 2011). Even though this study found a disparity in housing allocation, the scholars did not examine the exact programs that helped participants receive assistance. Therefore, more research is necessary to understand the type of housing programs members of the LGBT community depends on. The LGBT experience discrimination in the areas of health care, housing, and food security. These instances impede this group’s ability to reach and maintain social and economic security. Although many forms of discrimination are affiliated to cases of policy, the public and people’s perception regarding the LGBT plays a significant role.
Public’s Perception of LGBT
People’s opinion regarding members of the LGBT is a popular topic in both the press and academic writings. Nonetheless, studies regarding attitudinal trends are rare. There are mainstream indicators that show that people’s attitudes towards sexual orientations such as homosexuality and lesbianism have become increasingly unbiased than before. A study by Gerhards (2010) found that the American people’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians have changed dramatically over the past ten years, and the LGBT community is accurately aware of this instance. The changing attitudes mean that LGBT adults feel more accepted now than in the past. The gays, lesbians, and bisexuals may currently enjoy this luxury, but it is important to note that this was not the case in the 1700s. Importantly, in the periods before and after the American Revolution, sexual acts, including sodomy, were considered a capital offense.
Cross-dressing or wearing clothes that do not align with one’s sex was considered a felony punishable by imprisonment or other forms of corporal punishment. For instance, a man could be punished for wearing a woman’s cloth. Society, at the same time, did not welcome people who displayed such behaviors. Lord Cornbury, royal governor of New York and New Jersey, was one of the many individuals affronted by the society for dressing in women attires (Gerhards, 2010). Moreover, most of the laws that criminalized such acts were inherited from colonial laws in the 1600s. They often targeted sexual acts between people of the same sex. Their very definitions were also broad enough to outlaw individual sexual acts between people of different sexes and, in most cases, between married individuals. European authorities sought to control the sexual behaviors of people within their countries. The French, British, and Spain enacted laws regarding unmarried sex and sodomy. Sodomy was a capital offense under the English laws, and it was punishable by death. One of the earliest victims of these laws was Richard Cornish, a sea captain executed in Virginia for an alleged sexual assault against another man.
However, it is essential to note that the British colonial authority was not always sure which sexual acts were to be classified as sodomy; in fact, most sodomy laws proscribed a diverse and inconsistent set of sexual acts. Religious authorities debate this point, although the statutes adopted by different colonies differed in the specific actions punishable by death. Most laws only focused on sexual acts between men. The confusion remained until the late 19th century when homosexuality as a distinct category of person emerged. Like in the periods before and after the American Revolution, where colonies used laws to discriminate, states in the 19th century used these terms to enact discriminatory measures (Gerhards, 2010). But these measures reached their peak twenty years after the Second World War when government agencies discriminated against homosexuals. Many states legislated laws that deterred homosexuality. Texas, for instance, enacted homosexuality laws in the 1970s.
But this would change for the best in the early 2000s, particularly with the Lawrence vs. Texas supreme court case. Lawrence vs. Texas was a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court rules that the US legislation prohibiting private homosexual activities were unconstitutional (Gerhards, 2010). The Supreme Court reiterated the concept of the right to privacy. The LGBT community welcomed the decision. More importantly, the decision was an indication that civil rights in the United States were evolving. Both supporters and opponents of LGBT rights reacted vocally to the stance; both sides considered the maintenance or the abolition of homosexuality legislation as central. Supporters rejoiced, with some claiming that the decision closed an era of intolerance and welcomed a period of respect and equality for LGBT people in the United States. Those who opposed the move viewed the matter differently; most saw it as a way that allowed immoral behaviors in American society. Despite the different views, all Americans agreed that this case would be the opening wedge in a nationwide campaign to legislate same sex marriage.
Things are much different today, and the LGBT community is slowly but surely being recognized at all society levels. Currently, a record number of LGBT candidates are being elected to Congress, and states like Colorado have experiences leadership under an openly gay governor. Americans have managed to change their perceptions of the LGBT community faster than any other civilization in the world; however, it is less clear why this is so. Some claim that it is a change in human behavior and demographic realities that have made most Americans cozy to the existence of living in a sexually liberated society. A study that meant to investigate patterns of long-term changes in attitude found that people’s explicit attitudes towards certain groups become less biased with time (Nama et al., 2017). In other words, this means that time has helped create a space for the LGBT community in society; time has led to less biased attitudes. The change in social behavior in favor of this community allowed many people, including gays, lesbians, and others, to “come out of the closet.” Another aspect contributed to this instance. In 1978 almost ten years after the Stonewell riots, Harvey Milk, a renowned gay activist, gave an impassionate appeal: “Every gay person must come out.” Adhering to these words, more and more Americans started to come out to their families, some galvanized by the pain AIDS epidemic. In the 1990s and the early 2000s, behaviors associated with the LGBT cultures were prevalent in mainstream cultures. Movies, music, and other forms of art endorsed the LGBT culture.
Social Welfare Legislation
The United States has had social welfare laws since it attained its independence; however, the extent and nature of these laws have changed over the years. Also, the United States constitution does not have an explicitly defined anti-discrimination law that protects LGBT people. Those that exist tend to offer umbrella protection. For instance, the 1866 Civil Protection Act only defines citizenship and affirms that the law equally guards all citizens. The fourteenth amendment also does not offer adequate protection for this group. Like the Civil Protection Act, this also defines citizenship and guarantees all citizens equal protection of the law.
The absence of well-established LGBT legislation makes it hard for this group to fight against perpetual discrimination. There is no single legislation that prevents a member of the LGBT community from being fired or refused a job based on their sexual alignment (Jennifer, Christy, Brad and Nan, 2012). The single largest employer in the United States, the US military does not accept gays and lesbians; in fact, the existence of 1993 Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) deteriorated this instance. This legislation, which has since been repealed, prevented gay people from lying about their sexuality to join the military. The law also prevented gays and lesbians from openly disclosing their sexuality. In other words, this legislation did more in belittling the LGBT community as opposed to empowering them. The law triggered outrage from many gay and lesbian rights advocates, and many believed that the policy rebranded the idea of disallowing gay and lesbian recruitment in the military (Lennon-Dearing & Delavega, 2015). Nonetheless, the 1964 Civil Rights Act remains the most significant social welfare legislation in the United States.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act is revolutionary civil rights and employment law in the United States. The act protects individuals against discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation (Bornstein & Bench, 2015). This act has been fundamental in the protection of employment rights. However, its practicality in preventing discrimination towards LGBT based on sex has been a cause of significant national debate. For instance, in 2019, three cases, which raised the question of whether the Civil Rights Act prevents discrimination against LGBT, were presented before the United States Supreme Court. Among the three cases, two were submitted by men who allegedly lost their jobs on the ground that they were gay. The third case addressed the issue of transgender discrimination. One of the two employees, Gerald Bostock, claimed he was fired for joining a gay recreational softball league. The Supreme Court ruled in their case that it was illegal to dismiss employees from their jobs on the basis of their sexual orientations. According to the court, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gays, lesbians, and transgender employees against discrimination based on gender and sexuality (Tilcsik, 2011). In spite of its effectiveness in the three cases, the Civil Rights Act provides insufficient protection against discrimination.
To overcome this challenge and provide sufficient protection for the LGBT community, Congress proposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Murphy (2018) agree that the law will guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex. The importance of this legislation and the factor that makes it different from other social welfare legislation is that it will legally end the distinction between men and women in matters such as property, employment, and divorce (Tilcsik, 2011). Equal Rights Amendment is in like manner critical because it tends to disregard the mainstream narrative that the Constitution was enacted for men. The Constitution was written by and for white men, which is a factor that affects its principle for equal justice. Likewise, the idea that the law was written by and for white men means that women, transgender, people of color, and other vital groups are openly regarded as less than full citizens and therefore excluded from the protection provided by the Constitution.
Many of the legal protections that aim to encourage women’s equality, even without an explicit mention of sex in the Constitution, are rooted in the ideals of equality in the Constitution and a new definition of equality that has surpassed obsolete biases and stereotypes. Approving the Equal Protection Amendment would ensure that sex-based discrimination is inconsistent; it would send a strong message regarding the nation’s commitment to protecting the inherent rights of all people regardless of their sexual preferences and sex status (Employment Non-Discrimination Act, 2013). More importantly, the legislation would provide additional protection for sex discrimination in areas such as gender-based violence, access to productive health, and the workplace. Nonetheless, critics still believe that this amendment will only provide more protection for women and, in the process, disregarding the group that needs protection the most. According to Murphy (2018), the Equal Rights Amendment would strengthen legislation on matters including pregnancy discrimination, violence against women, equal pay, among other legislation that provide protection for women. The laws that exist, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and proposed legislation such as the Equal Rights Amendment, do not directly address the discrimination faced by LGBT. There is a need for United States legislators to legislate laws that ensure that members of the LGBT are protected while in the workplace and while receiving care in hospitals.
United States laws have done less to protect members of the LGBT community against harm. The laws enacted continue to shape the community in different ways, but none of this legislation directly addresses the issues of the LGBT community. Social welfare legislation such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act has done more to protect this community; however, what makes these laws fall short in dealing with issues facing LGBT is that they were not legislated with this group in mind. Nonetheless, one significant aspect that may change the trajectory of the problems faced by the LGBT and, more importantly, improve the lives of its members is the changing attitudes amongst the members of the public. The attitudes of the American people towards gays and lesbians have changed dramatically over the past ten years, and the LGBT community is accurately aware of this instance. The changing attitudes mean that LGBT adults will, in the coming days, feel more accepted. Likewise, the changing public perception may attract more benefits for the group than legislations. In other words, equality can only be achieved when people themselves see no distinction.
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