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As we celebrate Pride Month and the one-year anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, we must continue to fight for LGBTQ equality. When we reflect on the Bostock decision and its incredible impact on our community, we must also remember the tough work that still remains to ensure legal and economic protections for LGBTQ people and their families.

Employment protections are even more critical as we struggle to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent data, 40% of LGBTQ workers are employed in fields where they face higher exposure to COVID-19 infection and/or economic insecurity, with 2 million LGBTQ individuals working in the restaurant/food industry and 1 million LGBTQ individuals working in hospitals.[1] In addition, 32% of LGBTQ workers experienced reduced work hours and 12% of LGBTQ workers were unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

LGBTQ people of color are even more vulnerable to these effects with 32% of LGBTQ people of color in the U.S. having experienced sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination when applying for employment. [3] Since the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ people of color have faced extreme financial difficulties with 70% of LGBTQ Latinx folks and 95% of LGBTQ Black folks having had at least one serious financial issue during the pandemic (as compared to 66% of all LGBTQ individuals and 44% of non-LGBTQ individuals).[4]

Since Bostock was decided, it has had wide-reaching impacts with a growing number of federal courts applying its analysis to other federal sex discrimination statutes to protect LGBTQ+ folks in schools, housing, and healthcare. Moreover, the Biden administration within the first month in office issued an Executive Order directing every federal agency to implement Bostock’s ruling.[5] At the same time, we are seeing hostile state legislatures across the country pushing a record number of anti-trans bills, many of which are targeting our trans youth.[6] So as we celebrate Pride, we must also keep charging forward to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly LGBTQ BIPOC persons who are our most vulnerable, feel safe and protected in all aspects of their lives.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

[1] Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace issues: Quick take. (2021). Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/research/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-workplace-issues/

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4]Lessening the Pandemic’s Burden on LGBTQ Workers and Families. Center for American Progress. (Feb. 11, 2021).  https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq-rights/news/2021/02/11/495675/lessening-pandemics-burden-lgbtq-workers-families/

[5] Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. (Jan. 20, 2021). https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-preventing-and-combating-discrimination-on-basis-of-gender-identity-or-sexual-orientation/

[6] Pride: 2021 has set a record in anti-trans bills in America. PBS Interview of Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice for the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. (June 6, 2021). www.pbs.org/newshour/show/pride-2021-has-set-a-record-in-anti-trans-bills-in-america

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