The Court Agreed that Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Are Forms of Sex Discrimination Prohibited by Title VII
WASHINGTON —Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, is celebrating the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which cemented the legal interpretation that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Though Bostock, and other landmark legal decisions, are critical steps toward LGBTQ+ equality, they do not cover all areas of civil rights law. The Equality Act is federal legislation that codifies Bostock, and broadly addresses discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and improves many aspects of the existing civil rights laws. It picks up where the Supreme Court left off — guaranteeing federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across other critical areas, including housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service. Currently, 29 states do not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. Without the Equality Act, LGBTQ+ people remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, denied health care and more simply because of who they are.
The protections guaranteed by Bostock are also significant because LGBTQ+ adult Americans are more likely than the general population to live in poverty and suffer from unemployment and employment discrimination. Prior to the pandemic, one in ten LGBTQ+ people were unemployed. About one in five LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. live in poverty. Additionally, the poverty rates of transgender adults in the U.S. is 29% and tower over those of other groups; while Black transgender adults and Latinx transgender adults are more likely to live in poverty than transgender people of any other race.
Research conducted in the year following the Bostock decision found that LGBTQ+ workers in the United States still earn less than the general population. A report from the HRC Foundation found that LGBTQ+ full-time workers in the United States earn 90 cents for every dollar earned by the average worker in the general population--translating to over $5000 less a year. The wage gap was even larger for BIPOC LGBTQ+ workers, LGBTQ+ women, transgender men and women, and BIPOC LGBTQ+ women.
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