Two Thirds Of LGBTQ Employees Are In The Closet At Work, Says New Survey

Male employees are much less likely to be out at work than female employees.

Scrabble tiles arranged to form the letters LGBTQ
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Male employees are much less likely to be out at work than female employees.

Two thirds of LGBTQ individuals with jobs remain in the closet at work, according to a new survey conducted by Verizon Media. What’s more, as Yahoo Finance reports, male LGBTQ employees are far less likely to be “out” at work than their female counterparts.

Legalized Discrimination In The Workplace

One of the principal reasons for this is that, in several states anyway, you can be fired, denied promotions, or otherwise discriminated against at work simply because you’re gay. According to LGBTQ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign, 17 states — including Florida, Texas, and Alabama — have absolutely no laws on the books preventing workplace discrimination against on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Just last week, for example, a summer camp counselor was fired for being gay. As The Hill reports, 18-year-old Jace Taylor was fired, even before he started working, from faith-based Fircreek camp in Washington, due to his sexual orientation. “In order to be consistent to our beliefs and our mission we felt compelled to pass on someone we truly liked for this counselor role,” said Tom Beaumont, executive director of the organization that runs the camp.

And it’s perfectly legal. Though Washington is one of the states with laws that prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it, like other states, has exceptions in place for non-profit religious organizations, says the law firm of Sebris, Busto, and James.

Keeping It Private

Even in states where the law prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, some employees are afraid to come out at work.

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Beck Bailey, acting director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, says that some LGBTQ employees are afraid that being out will negatively affect their relationships with co-workers. “This hurts not only LGBTQ employees, but the company as a whole through lost engagement and productivity as well as unnecessary turnover,” he says.

Other LGBTQ workers say that, anti-discrimination laws aside, being out at work would just make things too difficult as an employee. One worker, for example, said that he would feel “judged” at work if he were out. “I don’t like to be judged, it would consume me, so I just keep quiet, but that makes me feel more isolated from everyone else as well,” said one worker.

Closing The Loopholes

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has taken steps to make things at least a little easier for LGBTQ individuals in the workplace. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Equality Act adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal law with regard to discrimination in housing, employment, borrowing, and in other areas. However, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.