WASHINGTON, D.C. — LGBT workers of color are among the most disadvantaged workers in the U.S., due to discrimination and a lack of workplace protections, job benefits, unfair taxation and unsafe schools, according to a report, “A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color,” from a coalition of LGBT and progressive organizations released on Nov. 14.
In a 2012 Gallup poll, 33 percent of LGBT respondents identified as people of color, compared to just 27 percent of non-LGBT respondents.
“Contrary to popular stereotypes, LGBT workers are more racially diverse than the general population, making it critical to address the unique obstacles they face,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition. “Bias and prejudice based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression intersect to the detriment of LGBT workers of color.”
According to the report, LGBT people of color face extraordinarily high rates of unemployment, compared to non-LGBT people of color. The report notes that unemployment rates for transgender people of color have reached as high as four times the national unemployment rate. LGBT people of color also face a higher risk of poverty. LGBT youth of color are at higher risk of becoming homeless. Nationally, 20-40 percent of all homeless youth are estimated to identify as LGBT. Youth of color are overrepresented; one study of homeless youth who identify as gay or lesbian, found that 44 percent identified as black and 26 percent as Latino.
Advocates say larger problems of institutionalized prejudice and discrimination are to blame.
“Systemic barriers and inequities in the educational system make it harder for LGBT people of color to meet workforce qualifications,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “LGBT workers of color are also unfairly denied or lack access to job-related benefits that other workers take for granted, making it harder for these workers to earn a living and provide for their families.”
Advocates say there are common-sense solutions, including eliminating or reducing educational barriers and creating safer schools, reducing bias and discrimination against LGBT workers of color and securing equal pay and benefits.
“Fixing the broken bargain for LGBT workers of color will help ensure that they are treated fairly no matter where they work, that they receive the same compensation for the same work, and that they can access important benefits available to other workers to protect their health and livelihood,” said Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work.
The report can be read online in English and Spanish at lgbtmap.org/workers-of-color and is co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its FIRE Initiative, Freedom to Work, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), in partnership with Color of Change, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Action Network, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, and SEIU.
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