As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy prepares to sign into law a bill that protects transgender people from discrimination, we're seeing a national trend that the population overwhelmingly supports workplace nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community.
The Center for American Progress released poll results last week finding that 73 percent of likely 2012 voters support protecting gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination. Many demographics, including Democrats, Republicans, independent voters, Catholics, and the elderly agreed that sexual orientation and gender identity should be protected.
More interestingly, the study found that 90 percent of the respondents believed that a federal law already existed to protect gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination.
Other studies have demonstrated the prevalence of workplace discrimination for gay and trans people - 15-43 percent of gays said they have experienced workplace harassment, and 90 percent of trans people said the same.
At My Fire Dog Lake, Teddy Partridge explained the enormous problems with this misconception:
No matter how high up in the stratosphere support for enacting workplace non-discrimination laws is, if almost all Americans think those protections already exist, then there will be no pressure -- at all! -- on legislators to enact such provisions.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal bill that would make discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation has been proposed in nearly every Congress since 1994. Some of these introduced bills included gender identity protections. In April, the trans-inclusive ENDA was reintroduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Workplace protections already exist federally based on gender, race, age, disability, and veteran status.
The false belief that sexual minorities already enjoy protection from workplace discrimination demonstrates the need for continued reporting and efforts to raise awareness about stories of discrimination. It's nearly impossible to galvanize support for a federal law if such a large majority of people already think the law is in place.
When Gov. Malloy approves the CT bill, as he's promised to do, Connecticut will become the fifteenth state to protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. An additional seven states include only sexual orientation in these protections.