Over Half of US LGBTs Scared to Be Out in the Workplace

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53% of LGBT Americans have not told their work colleagues about their sexual persuasions, a new Human Rights Commission (HRC) poll has discovered. The revelation has made commentators wonder how liberal-minded the US really is despite the legalisation of same-sex marriage in a number of states.

About 25% of respondents said that they regularly heard casually homophobic comments while at work, such as ‘That’s really gay’. One in five had been so put off by the intolerance of their colleagues that they had been compelled to look for a new job. Over a third said that they had lied about their sexuality in case they attracted criticism or prejudice.

The poll, which was conducted during the early part of this year, questioned 806 LGBT and 879 non-LGBT people across the United States. In 2009, similar research showed that 51% of American gay and lesbian workers were in the closet. It would seem that, if things have changed at all, they have changed for the worse.

The results from the non-LGBT participants weren’t very encouraging either. Less than half of them reported feelings of discomfort when their gay and lesbian colleagues talked about their love lives, even though this is a topic that many straight workers discuss a lot of the time.

On the positive side, 81% didn’t think that LGBTs should have to conceal who they are at work. Furthermore, the HRC report found that many employers had instituted LGBT awareness programmes and offered support to their LGBT employees.

However, the director of HRC’s Workplace Equality initiative, Deena Fidas, doesn’t think this goes far enough: ‘It’s not enough to put in place inclusive policies. [We also need] training and accountability, and must be on the lookout for unconscious bias.’

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If only the world was as “open-minded” as us… Alas, matters of sexual identity and equal love, often cause so much friction in the rest of the world. Here, find an open dialogue on the issues facing our LGBT community.

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