Yesterday, the Supreme Court began litigating whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects the LGBTQ community from workplace discrimination. They will be looking at three separate cases brought forth by the Trump administration, in which they urged the justices to reach a ruling where being LGBTQ would be considered an offense to terminate employment. It is an evil and morally bankrupt move by an evil and morally bankrupt group of people. That said, it’s our reality and everyone should be talking about it.
This is a decision that can open a door that will lead to even further attacks to the LGBTQ community. According to transequality.org, one in three transgender people already suffer workplace discrimination. Can you imagine what that will be like if employers have a legal right to fire someone for being trans, gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
“So first thing’s first, what are the cases being argued?”
One involves Aimee Stephens, who came out after previously identifying as a man. After working six years at a funeral home, her boss fired her and said, “This isn’t going to work out” after Amy came out. The other two involve gay men; Gerald Bostock, who worked as a social worker for at-risk youth, and Don Zarda, a former skydiving instructor in Long Island. The lower courts ruled in favor of Don and Aimee, finding that their firing violated civil rights law.
“What’s at stake if the court gives the Trump administration the ruling they want?”
A lot! Again, the LGBTQ (especially people of color and trans people!) already face a significant amount of discrimination as is. To open the floodgates where all of that is legal is a terrifying thought. LGBTQ people rely on federal protections to combat things like discrimination within arenas that concern housing, health care and education.
In addition to this, the ACLU raises a very interesting point; this ruling could potentially spell trouble for those who don’t present femininely or masculinely enough. Take the case of Ann Hopkins, for example:
Hopkins was passed over for partner and told she could increase her chances if she would “walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry.” The Supreme Court ruled that requiring her to conform to stereotypes associated with being a woman demonstrated sex discrimination.James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project
Many federal courts have concluded that firing LGBTQ people because we don’t meet employers’ stereotypes of how women and men should act, identify, and appear is just as much sex discrimination as passing over Ann Hopkins because she was considered “macho.”
Though it is not known when exactly the court will issue their ruling, it’s important that we continue to watch for developments, the decision leaves the safety of countless LGBTQ people in the balance.