Many studies have shown conclusively that the LGBT community as a whole does in fact need the protection of a federal nondiscrimination act; a report released on November 14, “A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color,” uncovers the reality that some workers need it even more than most.
The report, a collaboration between the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and a dozen other civil rights organizations, compiles a number of statistics showing that that LGBT workers of Spanish decent are some of the most disadvantaged in the US. Poverty and unemployment rates are extremely high among that segment of the population due to multiple disadvantages; regardless of orientation, people of color in America often have the odds stacked against them from childhood, but being gay, bisexual, or transgender only adds to it.
From childhood, many people of color in the US lack access to high-performing, safe schools; the odds of a student being physically or verbally harassed are often considerably higher when they are even suspected of being LGBT, which can led to depression, dropping out, or suicide. LGBT kids are also more likely to be kicked out of the house or run away, thus ending up homeless; a previous study showed that 26 percent of homeless LGBT youth are of Hispanic descent.
For those who do manage to get jobs, finding one that pays a living wage and benefits is another significant struggle; previous studies show that only 69 percent of the Latino community has health insurance, but a 2012 Gallup poll discovered that the numbers are even worse among LGBT Latinos—61 percent. In addition, when even being employed full-time is not a guarantee of rising above the poverty line, buying health insurance is almost certainly not an option. (After the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, it is hoped the numbers will improve.)
For those who do have jobs, the MAP study showed that few tend to be “out” at work; a survey from 2009 found that while 29 percent of white LGBT people are completely out at work, only 18 percent of Latino LGBT people are.
Additionally, transgender Latinos are most likely of all to be extremely poor; in the general population of the Latino community, 5 percent live in extreme poverty, while among transgender Latinos, it’s 28 percent.
Far from just lamenting the misfortunes of LGBT Hispanics, the report follows its pages of statistics analysis with recommendations: pass legislation to eliminate or reduce educational barrier in schools, bias and discrimination in the workplace, and secure equal pay and benefits for LGBT people of color.
Though it’s also true that the government cannot change opinions or morals, only laws, legal workplace protection in regards to gender expression and sexual orientation, equal to that regarding race, would go a long ways towards improving the situations of countless individuals and families—the very people that make up the country they work and live in.
The full report can be found here.