Workplace Homophobia

Julie Shenkman
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According to a report by UK-based gay lobby group Stonewall in 2008, Serves You Right, 1 in 5 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgendered people have experienced homophobic bullying in the workplace. What counts as 'homophobic bullying'? Apparently, according to the Employment Eqality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, general office banter that may have an 'air' of homophobia doesn't count. "The law is a little unclear for people who feel they've been treated less favorably because of their sexuality when no one has said anything directly homophobic to them" says Samantha Mangwana, a lawyer at Russell Jones & Walker. Another report by Stonewall, The Double-Glazed Glass Ceiling, reveals that lesbians feel that being both female and gay doubles their disadvantage when it comes to climbing the success ladder at work. They also fear that hiding such a huge secret prevents them from making friends and forces them into detached solitude. Ashley Thomas, who works on Stonewall's workplace program, says it is important to stress how much better things have gotten for gay people in the workplace. "Coming out is still a huge risk for a lot of people, especially in blue collar industries and smaller businesses, but with businesses becoming more switched on and the next generation expecting more equality, things are changing," he says. But we still have a long way to go -- you can still be fired for being gay in 28 US states. Transgendered? The number bumps up to 38. As a result, LGBT people face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job. By: Bambi Blue Bambi Blue is a freelance writer, editor, and codemonkey living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She moonlights as a jazz musician, a social butterfly, and most apparently a weisenheimer. Loves to cook, hates to clean, and can easily be found on Twitter.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for the comments and thanks, Bambi for sharing your thoughts on this very important matter. Over the past few years, great strides have been made to stop this sort of workplace bullying and to foster a social acceptance that frowns on discrimination.
  • Missi
    I went to tons of links before this, what was I thkiinng?
  • Judy
    I've never seen a better post!
  • Morey
    Good point. I hadn't thought about it quite that way.
  • Caro
    That's really thinking out of the box. Thanks!
  • Mena
    You've solved all my problems

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