LBGTQI+ discrimination is still a very real issue in 2019, so what can you do if you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity?
The good news is that some of those 26 states with weak antidiscrimination laws states are under federal circuits that interpret existing gender discrimination laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation. And while there’s always controversy around it, some courts have interpreted Title VII, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, to cover discrimination against LGBTQ individuals as well. The current administration, through the Department of Justice, has spoken out against this interpretation of the law, but individual courts make this ruling. According to James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, “Fortunately, courts will decide whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people, not an Attorney General and a White House that are hell-bent on playing politics with people’s lives…. We are confident that the courts will side with equality and the people.” (https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/26/politics/doj-amicus-brief-title-vii-sexual-orientation/index.html).
What does this mean for you if you’re discriminated against? Well, the first thing to do is to reach out to a civil rights organization like your local ACLU chapter or the Human Rights Campaign. These organizations can help you determine if you have a legal case, as well as what your rights are, based on where you live. Second, if it’s safe to do so, speak out. Things won’t change unless we join our voices in support of what’s right. If you don’t identify as LGBTQI+, it’s even more important (and usually much safer) to speak out. We should all have the right to live and work safe from persecution and discrimination, and we ain’t there yet.
So please join me in keeping up the fight for equal rights!